The New York Times reports:
The United States had another month of mediocre job growth in October, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Employers added 80,000 jobs on net, slightly less than what economists had expected. That compares to 158,000 jobs in September, a month when the figure was helped by the return of 45,000 Verizon workers who had been on strike.
While job growth is certainly better than job losses, a gain of 80,000 jobs is hardly worth celebrating. That was just about enough to keep up with population growth, so it did not significantly reduce the backlog of 14 million unemployed workers.
As a result, the unemployment rate barely budged, dropping to 9 percent from 9.1 percent in September.
That 14 million unemployed does not count those who stopped looking for work or who are underemployed in lower-paying jobs. In order to get even to 8.5 percent unemployment by November 2012 we’d have to see about 200,000 new jobs every month. That almost certainly isn’t happening.
Not surprisingly, a flurry of statements from Republican politicians hammered the president and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
From House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio):
Today’s report underscores the need for immediate action on the more than 15 bipartisan, common-sense House-passed jobs bills that are piled up at Senate Democrats’ door. Senate Democrats are out of excuses and the president must call on them to act. The House has voted to remove government obstacles to desperately needed jobs — and we’ve done it in a bipartisan way. At a time when these bipartisan jobs bills are stalled in the Senate, it is unacceptable for the White House to be anything less than 100 percent engaged in the legislative process.
All of the stalled jobs bills passed by the House have bipartisan support, and some are even backed by the Obama administration. There’s no reason for the Democrat-controlled Senate to delay these bills a second longer. I urge the president to call on Senate Democrats to bring these bipartisan bills to a vote immediately.
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was on message as well: “I call on President Obama to ask Leader Reid to allow the Senate to vote on the 22 bipartisan jobs bills that we have passed here in the House. Just this week, the House passed four bills that the President supports, in addition to the one we passed last week. House Republicans agree, ‘we can’t wait,’ which is why we continue to pass common sense legislation to help small business men and women and spur job creation for the millions who are out of work.”
You get the theme. But politics aside, the outlook for the economy is bleak. That will compound the difficulty in making progress on the deficit and keep unemployment high for the foreseeable future. Perhaps that will spur the White House and Congress to go long on a debt deal. Everyone in D.C. could use some credit with the public. But I sort of doubt that will happen. Most likely, we are in for 12 months of the blame game.