President Obama seized on the July jobs numbers as good news and further evidence of the need for Congress to pass a bill to help local and state governments, while Republicans said the report is proof that the White House approach has failed and the aid bill is misguided.
Unemployment remained at 9.5 percent in July. Christina Romer, the outgoing head of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, stressed the seventh straight month of private-sector employment growth. But Republicans factored in the end of temporary Census jobs and highlighted the overall decrease of 131,000 jobs. Romer noted that state and local government jobs dropped 48,000, contending there remains a need for the state aid bill working its way through Congress.
House Minority Leader Boehner said the report should cause House Democrats "to reconsider beating a path back to Washington next week to double down on the same 'stimulus' policies that have led to fewer jobs and more debt."
The president said that the overall decrease was expected because of the Census jobs.
"The fact is we've now added private-sector jobs every month this year, instead of losing them, as we did for the first seven months of last year," he said. "And that's a good sign."
Romer confirmed a National Journal report that she is soon leaving the administration to return to California. She said she will depart Sept. 3 and resume her post as economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In a statement, the president hailed her service and said she was leaving because of "family commitments." The White House denied the National Journal report that her departure was hastened by friction with fellow economic adviser Larry Summers.
The president went to a local small business to make his comments on the jobs report. The White House chose Gelberg Signs because it has begun hiring workers and has benefited from Small Business Administration loans as well as the HIRE Act, a bill pushed by the president that gave the company a refund on payroll taxes paid on any unemployed worker it hired.
Obama singled out the manufacturing sector, contending that it "has actually added 183,000 jobs so far this year" and calling that "the most robust seven months of manufacturing growth in over a decade."
He noted that the House will return to Washington next week to deal with the aid bill, saying it will "keep at least 160,000 teachers in the classroom this fall who would otherwise be out of a job" and "will help states avoid making other painful layoffs of essential personnel like police and firefighters."
This article appears in the August 7, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.