Today’s Questions for the President

When the Labor Department reported last week that the unemployment rate had risen to 7.9 percent in January, the chairman of your Council of Economic Advisers stated that “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy continues to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.” The same report showed 157,000 jobs were created but nearly 170,000 people dropped out of the labor market entirely. The labor participation rate is lower than a year ago. Only 58 percent of working-age black men have a job, also a decline from a year ago.The total number of people without jobs continues to spike, with 8 million more people without jobs than when you took office.

Do you agree that an employment report with a rising unemployment rate and more people without jobs is evidence of a healing economy? If next month’s unemployment rate goes up or remains stuck at 7.8 percent or above — as it has for the last 49 month s– will that be further evidence of a healing economy? 

What do you expect the unemployment rate will be when the economy is fully “healed?” Based on current trends, when do you project that to be?

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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