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Today, the Labor Department reported that 36,000 net jobs were lost in the month of February. In comparison, the number of job losses grew from January’s reported 26,000 net job losses. Construction was the hardest hit industry cutting an estimated 64,000 jobs last month. According to the LA Times, there were no improvements in February’s job market since millions are still unable to find a job or full-time employment.
The number of officially unemployed remained at nearly 15 million, with 4 in 10, or 6.1 million people, having been out of work for six months or longer. And the Labor Department's broader measure of unemployment and underemployment, which includes part-time workers who want full-time jobs, rose to 16.8% last month from 16.5% in January.
The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.7% in February. Of course, the unemployment rate fails to factor in the 1.2 million discouraged workers that have given up actively searching for employment. Below the Atlantic graph shows the stunning increase in discouraged workers since October 2007.
The White House’s economic adviser, Larry Summer, claimed that the blizzards in earlier February were responsible for the disappointing unemployment data since some workers were not paid for hours they did not work:
The blizzards that affected much of the country during the last month are likely to distort the statistics.
However, according to the Wall Street Journal, the blizzards likely had minimal effect on the Labor Department’s reported job statistics:
The unemployment rate was probably affected least by the snowstorm. The Labor Department said people who miss work due to weather-related events are counted as employed whether or not they’re paid for the time off. In prior snowstorms the unemployment rate barely moved even as payrolls showed large swings due to weather.
House Republican leader John Boehner claimed that Washington’s poor economic policies, not its weather, was responsible for the disappointing jobs report.
Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, but it’s the blizzard of higher taxes, wasteful spending, and reckless borrowing coming out of Washington that’s destroying jobs in this country. President Obama and Democratic leaders will come out of the woodwork today armed with rehashed promises to do better, but their top and seemingly only priority remains this unpopular, unaffordable government takeover of health care. This partisan health care bill has become a national distraction, and it’s not too late to scrap it so we can start over with a clean sheet of paper and a step-by-step approach focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs.
Unfortunately, the White House will likely continue to wrongly blame the high unemployment rate on “snowpocalypse.” One reason that the unemployment rate remains high is current bills in Congress that will drastically raise taxes on businesses and individuals. The threat of potential future tax increases leave businesses uncertain whether or not they can afford to hire more employees. Therefore, businesses should be granted tax cuts that will make hiring new employees more affordable and secure.