The U.S. unemployment rate was slightly better than expected in July. The relatively good news gave President Barack Obama a break from the week’s relentlessly bad news on Wall Street.
As stock prices continued to slide in New York, the government reported Friday that the U.S. economy created 154,000 new private sector jobs in July. Cuts in government jobs led to a net total of 117,000 new positions last month. The nation’s unemployment rate eased from 9.2 percent in June to 9.1 percent in July.
President Obama acknowledged that those numbers are better than expected, but not nearly good enough.
“We have to create more jobs than that each month to make up for the more than eight million jobs that the recession claimed," said President Obama. "We need to create a self-sustaining cycle, where people are spending, and companies are hiring, and our economy is growing. And we have known that will take some time.”
Opposition Republicans say the jobless numbers show that the Obama administration’s economic program is not working.
In a written statement, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner called the report further proof that the economy is being devastated by a binge of spending, taxing and regulating. He said Democrats are not creating more jobs, but “more fear, more uncertainty and more debt.”
Despite the criticism and the gloom in the world’s financial markets, the president said the economy continues to grow, although slowly, and he believes the situation will improve.
“But what I want the American people and our partners around the world to know is this: We are going to get through this," said Obama. "Things will get better, and we are going to get there together.”
Mr. Obama spoke at the Washington Navy Yard, where he announced a plan to give tax breaks to companies that hire military veterans returning to civilian life.
The program is intended to put 100,000 veterans and their spouses in private-sector jobs by 2013.
Meanwhile, Friday was the final day at the White House for the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbee. He is resuming his academic career at the University of Chicago. A replacement has not been named.