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Obama touts job creation despite weak economic report

By Allen Cone
Obama touts job creation despite weak economic report
President Barack Obama discusses 74 straight months of job growth during his administration at an impromptu press conference in the Brady Press Room at the White House on Friday. Behind him are monitors that show the labor charts noting 171,000 job gains in the private sector in April (160,000 total increase). Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, May 6 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama looked on the bright side of a tepid economic jobs report Friday.

U.S. hiring slowed to only 160,000 jobs created last month as the jobless rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent with 7.9 million people unemployed.

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But Obama noted 74 straight months of job creation for a total of 14.6 million new positions since the economic troubles six years ago.

"We have to do everything we can to strengthen the good trends and guard against the more dangerous trends in the world economy," he told reporters at an impromptu news conference at the White House on Friday.

He called on Congress to increase infrastructure funding, raise the minimum wage and ratify trade deals.

The U.S. Department of Labor's jobless report showed the weakest hiring in half a year after the United States added 200,000 or more jobs in five of the previous six months.

"This 160,000 is more consistent with the slower pace of the economy," John Silvia, managing director and chief economist at Wells Fargo, told the Washington Post. "Maybe the aberration is not this month, but the prior six months."

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Also troubling: More than 300,000 Americans left the labor force — meaning they left jobs or abandoned looking for work.

The Labor Department also revised downward the number of jobs added in February and March by 19,000. In the last three months, the economy has gained about 200,000 jobs a month on average.

Because of good hiring reports the last few months, experts are not too concerned about the latest report and expect expansion the rest of the year.

"It's a soft report but it doesn't portend a turn in the labor market," Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays, told The New York Times. "I'd be more concerned if there were weakness across the board, but there wasn't."

The unemployment rate ranged between 4.9 percent and 5.1 percent since August. The April 2015 rate was 5.4 percent.

The hiring and unemployment rates are tied to different households.

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