Today's unemployment numbers--85,000 jobs lost, an unchanged rate of 10.0%--may have disappointed economists who said growth or fewer losses were on the way, but, when taken with new of job growth in November, the White House's message is this: the economy is stabilizing.
Christina Romer, chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, categorized the new numbers as a "slight setback" that showed an encouraging trend of economic stabilization, especially when compared to the massive job losses seen each month--in the hundreds of thousands from late 2008 to early 2009, and often in the high tens of thousands before that--throughout the recession.
"Today's employment report, though a setback from November, is consistent with the gradual labor market stabilization we have been seeing over the last several months," Romer said in a statement released this morning. '[I]n a broad sense the trend toward moderating job loss is continuing," Romer said.
And Romer touted some much better news: the economy actually gained 4,000 jobs in November--the first gain of jobs in 23 months--according to revised numbers put out today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, along with its December figures.
"This is obviously welcome news," Romer said. "Compared with the unexpectedly good report for November, December's job loss is a slight setback."
Careful not to project satisfaction, her statement also noted that the unemployment rate "remains unacceptably high."
It's not so encouraging that economic forecasters were disappointed and that the economy shed as many jobs as it did in the early months of the recession; at the same time, the 4,000 jobs gained gives the administration a feather in its cap. Taken together, it's a mixed bag.
See Romer's full statement here, posted on the White House blog.