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US Jobless Rate Steady; Obama Sees Progress

  • Kent Klein

President Barack Obama says the U.S. unemployment report for July shows some encouraging signs, even though the jobless rate remained at 9.5 percent. But the president admits more improvement is needed.

The Labor Department says the U.S. economy made progress in some areas last month, but not in others.

The nation lost jobs overall, mainly due to the expected cuts of 144,000 jobs at the government's Census Bureau. But private employers added 71,000 jobs in July.

President Obama spoke Friday to workers at a sign company in Washington which recently expanded its workforce. He said he is encouraged that July was the seventh consecutive month that America's private employers added jobs. "We have now added private sector jobs every month this year, instead of losing them, as we did for the first seven months of last year. And that is a good sign," he said.

The president also mentioned another report which said the trend of U.S. manufacturing jobs being shipped overseas was beginning to slow. "Just this morning, there was a report about the growing trend of manufacturing plants returning to the United States from overseas, instead of the other way around," he said.

Despite his upbeat assessment, Mr. Obama conceded that a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is unacceptable, and said he will do what he can to reduce that rate. "For America's workers, families and small businesses, progress needs to come faster. Our job is to make sure that happens," he said.

Opposition Republicans in Congress, including Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, say the stagnant jobless rate is an indictment of the Obama administration's economic policies. "At this slow pace, it will take much of the decade to return to normal employment levels. Despite the promises, the economic plan of President Obama and congressional Democrats has failed to restore consumer confidence, a key element to economic recovery," he said.

The top Republican in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader John Boehner, issued a statement referring to persistent high unemployment as "the reality of President Obama's broken promises, out-of-control spending sprees, and failing 'stimulus' policies."

The president's top economic adviser, Christina Romer, said there will likely be more bumps in the road, or challenges, as the economy recovers.

Romer announced Thursday she will step down as head of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and return to the University of California at Berkeley to teach economics.

Mr. Obama's budget director, Peter Orszag, recently resigned as well.