Dems push jobs bill despite 'best jobs report' since recession began

Democrats said that a jobs-creation bill is still needed despite the "best jobs report" since the recession began.

"I think we're at a moment now where we're beginning to see the positive benefits of the stimulus, but if we take our foot off the accelerator, we could relapse into a very, very slow recovery," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) Friday.

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The nation lost only 11,000 jobs in November, the smallest drop since the start of the recession in December 2007, according to the Labor Department on Friday. President Barack Obama, in a speech on jobs in Allentown, Pa., called the data "the best jobs report we've seen since 2007."

The president traveled there to tour a factory and hold a townhall meeting just hours after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the national unemployment rate had receded to 10 percent.

"This is good news, just in time for the season of hope," Obama said.

Obama and White House officials were quick to caution that "the journey from here will not be without setbacks or struggle."

"There may be some gyrations in the weeks ahead," Obama said.

But the president credited his $787 billion stimulus package, maligned by Republicans, for kick-starting the economy.

The president noted that when he took office in January, more than 700,000 jobs a month were being lost.

"In the two years since this recession began, too many members of our American family have felt the gut-punch of a pink slip," Obama said. "Eight million Americans have lost their jobs."

Obama hailed the 11,000 jobs lost last month as "about close to zero from the perspective of our overall economy."

The president even joked that Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, "got about four hugs when she handed us the report."

The report comes as Obama and Democrats consider new approaches to spur job growth, some of which the president will unveil in a speech next week.

The jobless rate fell from 10.2 percent in October, a 26-year high, to 10 percent last month, as job losses in the construction, manufacturing and information industries were offset by new hires in the healthcare sector and temporary help services.

But with economists projecting the jobless rate to remain around 10 percent into next year, Democrats in Congress signaled that that they'll move ahead with plans for the jobs-creation legislation.

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) called the jobs report "good news," but said it still shows "that the economy is still struggling and should remind us that there are still a lot of Americans who need help."

House Democratic leaders said they hope to pass a bill before Congress leaves for the holiday recess. Aides to Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have said that the upper chamber will take up jobs legislation after work on the healthcare reform bill.

Ideas being considered by the president and lawmakers include increased infrastructure spending, a tax credit for businesses that hire more full-time workers and loans for small businesses struggling to get credit, among others.

Republicans have called on Democrats to avoid any job-creation approach that resembles the stimulus, arguing that it didn't stop the unemployment rate from reaching double digits and contributed to the record $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009.

"If President Obama is truly interested in jobs-creation, then he should stop campaigning for reelection, stop pushing ‘Stimulus II’ and start working with Republicans on common-sense conservative solutions," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.