- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2013

The White House said Friday the lowering of the unemployment rate to 7.4 percent in July is further proof that Washington should adopt more of President Obama’s proposals to boost the economy, despite a slowing of the rate of jobs added during the month.

Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the jobless report “provides further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

“It is critical that we remain focused on pursuing policies to speed job creation and expand the middle class, as we continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007,” Mr. Krueger said.

The government reported that the unemployment rate in July dropped from 7.6 percent in June, with the creation of 161,000 non-farm jobs. It is the lowest jobless rate since December 2008, the month before Mr. Obama became president.

But House GOP Speaker John A. Boehner, citing the weaker jobs number, said the recovery is still too sluggish.

“Three years after the Obama administration proclaimed ‘welcome to the recovery,’ we’re still seeing the same thing month after month: not enough new jobs and an unemployment rate far higher than promised,” Mr. Boehner said. “Nearly five years of aggressive intervention by Washington — the ‘stimulus’ era of excessive spending, excessive red tape, and abuse by agencies like the IRS — have left our economy treading water with slow growth, high unemployment, and stagnant wages.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, added that, “while the unemployment number dropping looks good on the surface, the details show otherwise.”

“Persistent long-term unemployment, discouraged people leaving the workforce, and millions taking part-time jobs because they have no choice are not signs of a strong recovery,” Mr. Cantor said. “The president’s policies are holding back strong job creation.”

But Mr. Krueger noted that the unemployment rate for African Americans fell from 13.7 percent to 12.6 percent, also its lowest level since December 2008. The unemployment rate for women fell from 7.3 percent to 7.0 percent, he said.

The White House said the unemployment report emphasizes the need to stop the so-called “sequester” budget cuts that took effect in March. The president and congressional Republicans are preparing for a September battle over ending those cuts in the coming fiscal year.

“With the recovery entering its fifth year, we need to build on the progress we have made so far and now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds,” Mr. Krueger said. “The across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester continue to be a drag on the economy now and in the future.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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