By Sam Youngman & Ian Swanson - 05/07/10 03:47 PM EDT
President Barack Obama on Friday hailed the 290,000 jobs added to the economy in April as evidence his policies are working.
“We can see that the difficult and at times unpopular steps we've taken over the last year are making a difference,” said Obama, who spoke from the Rose Garden and was flanked by members of his economic team.
The 290,000 jobs were the most added to the economy in four years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported updated figures for March and February that showed a strengthening job market.
The economy added 230,000 jobs in March, many more than the 162,000 jobs originally forecast. In February, the economy added 39,000 jobs instead of losing 14,000, as Labor initially reported.
As more workers resume their search for a job in coming months, it will remain difficult to lower the unemployment rate. Forecasts by the administration and the Federal Reserve are for the jobless rate to stay above 9 percent for much of the year.
Obama said there was a silver lining to the rising
unemployment rate, as more Americans are looking for work because they are
“encouraged by better prospects.”
Republicans focused their attacks Friday on the high unemployment rate and Democratic policies they blamed for increasing public spending and raising the country’s debt.
House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said positive job growth is good news, but that the still-high unemployment rate “is a far cry from President Obama’s promise that the trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ would keep joblessness from rising above 8 percent.”
He said “Washington Democrats” continued to push job-killing policies that were piling more debt on the country.
Republican House Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) warned that the situation in Greece
was a reminder of “what can happen when a country goes on a shopping spree
without paying its bills.”
He faulted Democratic spending and the new healthcare law, and argued sustainable job growth would not be possible without tackling the deficit.
Democrats, for their part, fired back at the GOP.
A fact sheet from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office warned that congressional Republicans were threatening to return the country to “the failed Bush policies” that it said had created the economic crisis.
The release faulted Republicans for siding with “Wall Street banks, credit card companies, Big Oil and insurance companies.”
In his remarks, Obama mentioned both Greece and the wild gyrations in the stock market on Thursday afternoon, which the Securities and Exchange Commission is now investigating.
Obama said he spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday morning about the increasingly dire economic situation in Europe, and he pledged that the U.S. would support the financial aid package Europe and the International Monetary Fund are offering to Greece.
Regulatory authorities were monitoring the activities on the stock market closely.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 100 points at midday Friday, but had rebounded after falling more than 200 points earlier in the day.
The economy had been losing an average of 750,000 jobs per
month when Obama took office, and Obama said Friday’s figures were “particularly
heartening when you consider where we were a year ago.”
“Yes, we've got a ways to go, but we've also come a very long way,” Obama said.
Obama also emphasized that most of the new jobs reflected in the report were hires by private businesses.
The economy was expected to get a temporary boost from hiring by the U.S. Census Bureau, but only 66,000 temporary workers were hired in April to do census work, according to the report.
Most sectors of the economy added jobs, including manufacturing (44,000), professional and business services (80,000), healthcare (20,000), construction (14,000) and leisure hospitality (45,000).
This story was posted at 9:01 a.m. and updated at 11:47 a.m.