Three days after voters decided they wanted Republicans to run almost everything, everywhere, the latest report on jobs is in.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 214,000 new jobs were created in October, and the unemployment rate now stands at 5.8 percent. According to the Huffington Post, the Labor Department is reporting that 31,000 more jobs were added in August and September than previously reported.
This continued streak of job growth is the best performance by the private sector in American history. And to say “thanks,” American voters elected a congress that will almost certainly be even more intransigent and uncooperative with the White House than the previous one.
Since the beginning of 2014, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons have declined by 0.8 percent and 1.2 million people. Also, the number of long term unemployed has declined by 1.1 million since last October. The BLS report says that most job gains occurred in food services and retail. However, professional and business services saw increases in employment as well.
Health care employment increases
Republicans wasted no time after their election victory in promising once again to vote on repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. They continue to insist that the law costs American jobs. But the BLS numbers simply don’t support that claim.
Health care jobs increased by 25,000 in October, which the report says is a continuation of increased job availability in that field. Over the past 12 months, since most provisions of Obamacare went into effect, health care jobs have increased by an average of 21,000 per month. The combination of increased jobs in health related fields, coupled with overall job growth, shows that Republican claims that Obamacare is a “job killer” simply aren’t true.
On a related subject, the number of workers employed part time who would like to work full time has declined by about one million over the past year. This calls into question another Republican claim about Obamacare; that employers are reducing worker hours in order to not have to pay for health insurance for full time workers.
One down side to the jobs report is the paltry increase in worker pay. Wages ticked up by an average of just three cents an hour, which equals an average increase of two percent. That barely keeps most workers ahead of inflation. Bloomberg reports that worker productivity increased again, and the increase in employee costs was less than expected, at only 0.3 percent. So, American workers continue to increase their employers’ profits, without reaping much reward.
Republicans have a challenge to maintain job growth
The Obama administration’s policies have managed to stimulate job growth, and reduce unemployment, with little to no help from Republicans. The question for Republicans now is, will they aid the president in improving the economy, or will they actively stand in his way? Voters seemed willing to blame Democrats for perceived problems in this election, but with Republican majorities at both ends of the Capitol, it will be harder for them to convince voters that Democrats are the problem next time around, especially if the current trends reverse.
The question for President Obama is whether he will stand firm on his economic policies, or will he give in to Republican demands, as President Clinton did on a number of occasions during his presidency. Hopefully, the Republican leadership will put the good of the country ahead of political concerns, and the economy will continue to improve. But, if history gives us any insight into Republican behavior, don’t count on that happening.[Image courtesy Businessstreetonline]