- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written before President Obama spoke publicly Friday about his disappointment in the unemployment numbers for August.

For the second straight month, President Obama was out of town when grim U.S. unemployment numbers were released, leaving his vice president in charge to comment on the massive job losses.

On Sept. 4, when the Labor Department announced unemployment in August had jumped to a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, with 216,000 jobs lost, Mr. Obama was in the midst of a five-day vacation at Camp David — which came on the heels of a weeklong holiday on Martha’s Vineyard.

The president did not emerge to comment on the news, leaving Vice President Joe Biden to handle the task, which he did defensively, blaming former President George W. Bush for the losses.

“You know, when we took office back in January, job losses were staggering. There were 741,000 jobs lost that last January, 681,000 in February, 652,000 in March of this year,” he said.

“We’re making progress with substantially less job loss than we saw a few months ago. The numbers reported today show 216,000 people lost their jobs last month, much too high but roughly two thirds of the job loss we saw on a monthly basis when we took office and the lowest that it’s been in a year.”

Mr. Obama got in a couple more days of vacation and a round of golf before returning to work after the Memorial Day weekend.

This time is no different. The Labor Department announced on Friday that another 263,000 jobs were lost last month, driving the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent. The rate is even higher — 17 percent — if laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included.

But when the bad news emerged, Mr. Obama was wrapping up a trip to Copenhagen, where he made a pitch to the International Olympic Committee to pick his adopted home town of Chicago as the site for the 2016 Summer Games. He took no questions from reporters and made no comments on the unemployment numbers.

In his brief comments before a meeting of his Middle Class Task Force, Mr. Biden Friday again blamed the Bush administration. He noted the 263,000 jobs lost in September was significantly down from the average 700,000 jobs the economy was shedding monthly when Obama took office. But the vice president also said that less bad is not our measure of success. He said the administration is working hard on every front to turn around the economy.

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