Economy Adds Workers, Joblessness Falls to Lowest Mark Since 2009

Cautious optimism in latest numbers.
Despite obstruction by Republicans the United States economy
shows trend toward growth.

Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough given the large job losses from the recession that began in December 2007.

Private sector payrolls increased by 140,000 in November and overall payroll employment rose by 120,000. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage point to 8.6 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009.  About half of the drop in unemployment in the household survey was due to a decline in the labor force (-315,000) and about half to employment growth (+278,000).  Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, the economy has added private sector jobs for 21 straight months, for a total of 2.9 million jobs over that period.  Nonetheless, we need faster growth to put more Americans back to work.

While the U.S. economy is healing, the world economy continues to be in a fragile state and all economies are linked through trade and finance.  In this environment, the President’s American Jobs Act is the right medicine to sustain and strengthen the recovery.  In particular, with 13.3 million Americans still unemployed, and 43 percent of them unemployed for 6 months or longer, it would be a setback for the economy and American families if Congress were to allow extended unemployment benefits to expire at the end of the year. The President’s proposal to extend and expand the payroll tax cut for workers and small businesses also would provide a substantial boost to economic growth and job creation.

Sectors with employment increases in November included retail trade (+50,000), professional and business services (+33,000), leisure and hospitality (+22,000), health care and social assistance (+19,000), and manufacturing (+2,000).  The temporary help services industry, which is often a leading indicator of future job growth, increased for the fifth month in a row, by 22,300.  Sectors with employment declines included government (-20,000) and construction (-12,000).  State and local governments lost 16,000 jobs and have shed 430,000 jobs since February 2010.

The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. While today’s report is hopeful, there is a long way to go. As the Obama Administration always stresses, there is far much more to be done.

President Obama Announces $4 Billion Investment to Make Buildings More Energy Efficient

This morning, President Obama met with former President Bill Clinton to announce the next piece of the “We Can’t Wait” campaign — a $4 billion effort to improve energy efficiency in buildings across the country.

The two were joined by Tom Donohue — the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — and Randi Weingarten — the president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The group toured a building in northwest Washington that’s currently seeing an efficiency upgrade. That improvement employs around 250 full-time workers and will save the building $200,000 a year on its energy bills.

Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways for us to create jobs, save money, and cut down on harmful pollution, President Obama said:

It is a trifecta, which is why you’ve got labor and business behind it.  It could save our businesses up to $40 billion a year on their energy bills – money better spent growing and hiring new workers.  It would boost manufacturing of energy-efficient materials.  And when millions of construction workers have found themselves out of work since the housing bubble burst, it will put them back to work doing the work that America needs done.  So this is an idea whose time has come.

As part of today’s announcement, President Obama directed all Federal agencies to make at least $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two months. Additionally, 60 private companies, hospitals, cities, states, colleges, and universities, among others, have collectively committed another $2 billion in energy efficiency retrofits to 1.6 billion square feet of property—roughly the equivalent of 500 Empire State Buildings.

The investments announced today are part of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which set a goal of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. The initiative will reduce energy bills for businesses by $40 billion per year, and one report found it could create up to 114,000 jobs.

More information:

Vice President Biden: “In America, and in Iraq, the Tide of War Is Receding”

Vice President Joe Biden addresses U.S. soldiers at Al-Faw palace at Camp Victory, outside Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Speaking at an event in Baghdad to honor the shared sacrifice and commitment of American and Iraqi servicemembers, Vice President Biden heralded a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and Iraq – one rooted in civilian cooperation as the remaining American troops prepare to return home by the end of this year. More than 200 U.S. and Iraqi servicemembers attended the event at Al Faw Palace – a former palace of Saddam Hussein.

“Today we come together at another moment of transition,” said Vice President Biden. “In America, and in Iraq, the tide of war is receding. And our relationship, borne on the battlefield and long defined by the imperative of security alone, is now giving way to a new, more normal partnership between sovereign nations seeking to build a future together.”

In reflecting on the 4,486 American servicemembers who lost their lives in the war in Iraq, and the more than 30,000 wounded, the Vice President quoted President Harry Truman in describing the end of the war as a “solemn but glorious hour.”

The event capped two days of productive talks in Baghdad with Iraqi political leaders – including a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee – all focused on the transition to an Iraq in control of its own security, with the United States as an enduring strategic partner across a broad range of areas. From energy development, to trade, to the rule of law, to agriculture, to education – these areas of cooperation defined by the Strategic Framework Agreement offer an “opportunity to help a new Iraqi democracy secure its place in the community of responsible nations,” the Vice President said.


Mitt Romney doesn’t think he needs to follow the rules. He doesn’t think he needs to answer tough questions about his record or which policies he supports—if any. Voters deserve to know his record and what he stands for—if he knows. As evidenced by the clips in the DNC’s new video, Mitt Romney only wants to answer #QuestionsMittLikes.

Watch and share the Democratic National Committee’s new web video—and join in on Twitter, using the hashtag #QuestionsMittLikes.

President Obama: Senate Vote Against the Payroll Tax Cut “Unacceptable”

Thursday night Republicans in the Senate rejected an extension of the payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of the month. In a statement following the vote, President Barack Obama called that vote “unacceptable” — and urged Congress to stop playing politics:

“Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They voted against a bill that would have not only extended the $1,000 tax cut for a typical family, but expanded that tax cut to put an extra $1,500 in their pockets next year, and given nearly six million small business owners new incentives to expand and hire. That is unacceptable. It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

“Now is not the time to put the economy and the security of the middle class at risk. Now is the time to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off, and everybody has a chance to succeed. Now is the time to put country before party and work together on behalf of the American people. And I will continue to urge Congress to stop playing politics with the security of millions of American families and small business owners and get this done.”