Sixty-Nine Months of New Jobs, White House Says

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. economy has grown more in the last three years than at any time since 2000, with the unemployment rate holding at 5 percent, an economic adviser for the Obama administration announced Friday.
     Nearly 8.1 million jobs have been added over three years, while unemployment has dropped faster than economists expected, Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.
     Previous economic projects forecasted unemployment remaining above 5 percent until 2020, Furman said.
     October saw 304,000 jobs added, the strongest showing so far this year, while 211,000 jobs were added this November, Furman noted. That included the addition of 197,000 private-sector jobs, according to the press release.
     Overall, 13.7 million jobs have been added during the past 69 months, representing “the longest streak on record,” the statement continued.
     Unemployment has also held “at its lowest level since April 2008,” while wages continue to rise.
     Undercutting these results, however, the challenge of wage growth remains, the White House said.
     Nevertheless, the “progress so far is encouraging evidence of the health of our labor market,” Furman’s post says.
     Average hourly pay in the private sector rose 2.3 percent over the past 12 months, though it remains below desirable levels, indicating there is still “more work to do to boost wages,” according to the statement.
     Nominal earnings generally grow 3 to 4 percent during economic expansions, but have only risen 1.6 percent over the past three years. Still, Furman noted that this remains above the 0.5 percent increase pace during the previous economic expansion.
     Furman said demographic factors have been less supportive of economic growth than in previous decades because population growth has slowed and the baby boomers are retiring. More economic growth during the current economic expansion than in the past five expansions is nevertheless encouraging, the White House assured.
     According to the data referenced in the press release, the construction, financial activities, wholesale trade, private educational services and utilities industries saw particular growth.
     Among industries that experienced a downturn in employment are manufacturing, mining and logging, which includes oil extraction.
     President Obama cited the release Friday in announcing a bipartisan transportation bill that passed the night before.
     “I look forward to signing this bill right away, so that we can put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and transit systems, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank that helps our companies compete around the world, and give local and state governments and employers the certainty they need to invest and hire for the long term,” Obama said in a statement.
     Obama went on to urge passage of more jobs bills and more transportation bills by Congress, which he said should also approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
     That and “a complete budget” to avoid a government shutdown are the “kinds of commonsense steps” America must take so that “every middle-class family has the chance to get ahead,” Obama said.

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