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Obama praises 6 years of job creation, revived economy

"Our businesses have created jobs every single month since I signed that job-killing [Affordable Care Act]," President Obama quipped Friday.
By Doug G. Ware   |   March 4, 2016 at 4:21 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Friday acknowledged the efforts of his administration to revive and strengthen the domestic economy in the years following the financial crisis, on the heels of a jobs report that cited nearly 250,000 new jobs in February.

During a roundtable discussion with administration officials at the White House, Obama said the U.S. economy continues to grow more than five years after the end of the crisis and the Great Recession.

"Six straight years of job creation, 14.3 million new jobs," the president noted during the table discussion, adding tongue in cheek, "In fact, our businesses have created jobs every single month since I signed that job-killing [Affordable Care Act]."

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs report that stated about 242,000 jobs were created in February, and unemployment remained under 5 percent. The figures indicate that the domestic economy has been particularly resilient against recent slowdowns in various foreign markets, prompting Obama to characterize the U.S. economic climate as "the envy of the world."

"The longest recorded streak of private-sector job growth now stands at six full years, 72 consecutive months, during which private employers have created 14.3 million jobs," Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in a statement Friday. "The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent, the first time it has been below 5 percent for two months in a row since the fall of 2007."

Since Obama took office at the end of the financial crisis in 2009, the domestic economy has steadily gained traction and emerged from a severe recession spurred by a near meltdown in the mortgage market.

"Initial unemployment insurance claims haven't been this consistently low in more than 42 years," Perez added. "In fact, for a full year now -- 52 straight weeks -- they have been at or under 300,000, compared to an average of more than 600,000 in early 2009."

The Labor chief also echoed Obama's assessment of the president's landmark healthcare law.

"It turns out the Affordable Care Act isn't a job killer after all," Perez said.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Commerce Secretary Anne Pritzker listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the domestic economy in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added 242,000 jobs in February and unemployment remained below 5 percent. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

During Friday's meeting, Obama said the U.S. market is performing at its highest efficiency since President Bill Clinton's administration.

"Today, America's businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s. America's workforce is growing at the fastest pace since the year 2000," he said. "If somebody had told us seven years ago that we'd get to this point, at a time we were losing 800,000 jobs a month and the unemployment rate hit 10 percent, we wouldn't have believed them.

"In other words, the numbers, the facts, don't lie."

Friday's figures, along with an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve three months ago, are strong indicators of a healthy economy, analysts say -- and might preclude a looming recession that some market experts have warned of.

"We've got a real strong job market going," analyst Carl Tannenbaum told The New York Times Friday. "It does suggest that fears about a U.S. recession have been greatly overdone."

The domestic economy's strong heartbeat will undoubtedly boost the Democratic Party's candidate to succeed Obama in November's election -- while posing a potentially significant obstacle for the Republican nominee, like Donald Trump, whose campaign slogan is "Make America great again!"

"There seems to be an alternative reality out there from some of the political folks, that America is down in the dumps. It's not," Obama said. "America is pretty darn great right now."

In issuing the February report, the Labor Department also revised job growth estimates from December and January that added an additional 30,000 employees to the U.S. workforce.

Included in the Labor Department's proposed budget for fiscal 2017, Perez said, are multiple measures intended to sustain the U.S. economy's hot streak -- like "smart investments in proven workforce development strategies ... stronger services and open[ed] doors of opportunity to laid-off workers, at-risk youth, veterans and others."

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