Opinion: As unemployment falls to a two-year low, Obama says there’s still work to do

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Seven weeks after House Speaker John Boehner hypothetically asked President Obama ‘Where are the jobs?’ the White House can reply that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8% in March, making it the strongest two months of hiring since the recession began.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 10, Boehner said: ‘Courtesy of President Obama, Americans have witnessed the grand failure of the notion that massive spending and borrowing by government will jump-start private-sector job creation. A trillion dollars in wasteful ‘stimulus’ spending left Americans asking: ‘Mr. President, where are the jobs?’'

By the end of March, 230,000 new private jobs were added to the economy, pushing the unemployment rate down a full percentage point over the last four months, the sharpest drop since the Reagan administration.

‘Although we got good news today, we have to keep the momentum going,’ Obama told a crowd at a UPS facility in Landover, Md. ‘That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in last 13 months. The last time that happened was during the recovery during 1984 where we saw such a significant drop in the unemployment rate.’


According to the Associated Press, economists are predicting an additional 2.5 million jobs to be created over the rest of 2011, which is the good news. The bad news is that’s only a fraction of the 7.5 million jobs that were lost during the recession that began during the George W. Bush administration.

Obama went on to say that although there are a lot of serious concerns happening around the world, American jobs and the U.S. economy are his highest priority.

‘I know there’s a lot going on in the world right now, so the news has been captured by the images of the Middle East and what’s happening, the tragedy to our friends in Japan, and I’m focused on those issues,’ Obama told the audience at the facility outside of Washington, D.C. ‘But you should know that keeping the economy going and making sure jobs are available is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, it’s the last thing I think about when I go to bed each night.’

Stephen Moore at the Wall Street Journal says that part of the problem with the U.S. economy is that more Americans work for the government than in farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.

‘If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million),’ Moore wrote. ‘This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.’

-- Tony Pierce