The employment report came out this Friday, and the numbers are not good news for job seekers or for Pres. Barack Obama. Only a net gain of 69,000 new jobs were created, 82,000 in the private sector. The unemployment rate rose one tenth of 1 percent to 8.2 percent. Black unemployment rose six tenths of 1 percent to 13.6 percent.
Alan Krueger, the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors joined Roland Martin from the North Lawn of the White House to talk about the slowing pace of economic growth.
MR. MARTIN: The Republican war on your voting rights continues. The latest outrage is in Florida, where attempts are being made to deny thousands of citizens the right to vote. We’re going to talk about that in just a moment, but first, the employment report came out this Friday, and the numbers are not good news for job seekers or for Pres. Barack Obama. Only a net gain of 69,000 new jobs were created, 82,000 in the private sector. The unemployment rate rose one tenth of 1 percent to 8.2 percent. Black unemployment rose six tenths of 1 percent to 13.6 percent.
Joining us from the North Lawn of the White House to talk about the slowing pace of economic growth is the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger.
Alan, welcome to “Washington Watch.”
MR. ALAN KRUEGER: Thanks for having me.
MR. MARTIN: Ev- — clearly, every new job added is positive; but clearly, the White House expected a much higher number, and you shouldn’t pro- — you’re probably not satisfied with 69,000 net jobs being created.
MR. KRUEGER: You know, we have now had 27 months in a row of private-sector job growth. We need more jobs in this country. Even before the recession struck, the U.S. economy was not creating enough jobs. You’re absolutely right. We’d like to speed up the pace of job growth. There’s an enormous hole when it comes to jobs because of the recession and because of problems that preceded the recession.
MR. MARTIN: Now, we saw manufacturing for the last several months do extremely well.
MR. KRUEGER: Well, manufacturing continued to expand, and some of the other indicators coming in also point to an expansion in the manufacturing sector. The purchasing manager survey today, for example, indicated that manufacturing is still expanding and that orders, in fact, are growing. And manufacturing has been one of the brighter spots in the economy –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. KRUEGER: — and we’d like to see manufacturing accelerate, even.
MR. MARTIN: Now, tha- — and that’s one of the issues that we focused on, not getting stuck on this – this month-to-month report, if you will; but clearly, the economy is going to be a driving force – the most important factor when it comes to the election in November. And so, clearly, the White House wants that positive news over the next two, three, four months; because, again, when you have this kind of report, it, frankly, causes things to contract; and then you still have to deal with a fragile economy.
When we talk about moving out of this particular pace, what do you see for the next three, four, five months in terms of job growth? Are you expecting 100,000+ a month, or do we – should [we] expect this sort of up-and-down sort of scenario?
MR. KRUEGER: Well, first of all, as long as I’ve been here – and I started at the Treasury Department early on in the Administration – we’ve been focused on trying to turn the economy around. When the President came into office, we were losing over 750,000 jobs a month, and the – the economy was contracting at almost a 9 percent annual rate in the quarter before the President came into the Oval Office. So, clearly, turning the economy around, restarting job growth was a priority; and for the last 27 months, we’ve had job growth each month.
Now, it has been up and down. I think that’s something we can expect in this type of an economy when you’re coming out of such a deep recession that was caused by a financial crisis. And it is the case that the U.S. is not insulated from what’s going on in the world. There are headwinds coming from Europe. We’ve seen gasoline and oil price spikes. Fortunately, the gas price is – is coming down now.
What’s important is for us to take the steps that we can take to strengthen the economy and to strengthen job growth. That’s what the President has been trying to do all along. He proposed, in the American Jobs Act, a payroll tax cut. Congress passed that, and that has been helping the recovery, but other things that he had proposed which would help haven’t passed. For example, [the] President proposed investing more in our infrastructure, rebuilding and maintaining our roads and highways. He also proposed a fund to help state and local governments keep schoolteachers and first responders on the job, and just last month we lost 28,000 construction jobs and 8,000 jobs in education. Had the President’s proposals passed, we’d be in much better shape in those sectors.
MR. MARTIN: Are we going –
MR. KRUEGER: So, the –
MR. MARTIN: — to see –
MR. KRUEGER: — President is continuing to fight for those types of jobs.
MR. MARTIN: Well, Alan, we certainly thank you for joining us; and, again, we’ll keep our focus on this. This certainly is issue number one. It is a top issue for our African-American audience, and we certainly hope that things do improve for all Americans, but – but specifically for those who are hardest hit. And African-Americans – especially African-American youth, leading into the summer – certainly qualify in that category.
MR. KRUEGER: My pleasure. Thank you.