May 2nd, 2014
10:52 AM ET
4 months ago

Political battle over jobs report

Washington (CNN) - A mostly positive jobs report Friday didn't stop Republicans from criticizing the White House over the economy.

Soon after the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy added 288,000 jobs last month (more than economists had predicted), some top Republicans went on the attack.

And the number they pointed to was the overall unemployment rate, which at 6.3% is the lowest level since September 2008, two months before Barack Obama was elected President. While that sounds like good news, the report notes that the jobless level, which comes from a survey of households, showed fewer people entering the workforce.

"While it's welcome news that more of our friends and neighbors found work in the past month, this report also indicates more than 800,000 Americans left the workforce last month, which is troubling," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement.

There was similar language coming from the Republican National Committee

"We're happy that more Americans were able to find work last month, but more and more people are dropping out of our workforce-giving up on finding a job. These are men and women who desperately need work and want work, but with the same labor force lows from the Carter economy, there are simply no jobs for them," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Boehner, Priebus, and others in the GOP went on to criticize the President and Democrats in Congress over their economic policies and proposals.

The White House praised the report, but said there's more work to do.

"The President continues to emphasize that more can and should be done to support the recovery, including acting on his own executive authority to expand economic opportunity, as well as pushing Congress for additional investments in infrastructure, education and research, an increase in the minimum wage, and a reinstatement of extended unemployment insurance benefits," Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Adviser, said in a statement.

And a top Democrat in the House used the report to once again slam Republicans for shooting down Democratic Party pushes on income equality.

"Congress must do more to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. Unfortunately, Republicans continue to stand in the way. Men and women in our country working full-time jobs are stuck raising their families in poverty, yet Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

View from Main Street

The positive news from Wall Street and Washington may not be resonating on Main Street. Many people just don't feel that good about things, and national polling indicates most people don't feel very optimistic about the economy and their personal plight.

Less than three in 10 questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week said they describe the economy as good or excellent, with more than seven in 10 saying economic conditions in the country are not so good or poor. And only 28% say the economy's getting better, with 36% saying things are getting worse and 35% saying things are staying the same.

Just 27% of Americans say the country's heading in the right direction, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey out this week. More than six in 10 say the U.S. is on the wrong track.

"Because the recovery has been relatively modest, moderate in its strength, there's this psychology among people that it's just not getting better out in America," said CNN Chief Washington correspondent John King.

Special CNN coverage of 2014 midterm elections

The economy remains the top issue on the minds of voters. Economic realities, as well as perceptions, will influence voters in 2014. The big question is whether those economic realities, and perceptions, will change between now and the November midterm elections.


Filed under: 2014 • Economy • Jobs • unemployment
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Pass the American Jobs Act Speaker Boehner! What's the hold up? You republicans and your terrible policies put us in this mess and expect it to be cleaned up overnight. It's ok though. we'll clean your mess up for you.

    May 2, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. Dean

    The total number of people out of the workforce is very telling. This number is not factored into the unemployment rate. This administration has done a lousy job on jobs and the economy. 2016 cannot get here soon enough.

    May 2, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Bill from GA

    If the republicans were honest, they would let the President have his agenda before they complained that it didn't work.

    Instead, they do all they can to block his agenda, then complain that our economy isn't growing fast enough and blame Obama..

    May 2, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  4. smith1

    this from a party that refuses to raise the minimum wage or invest in any kind of jobs growth programs. Roads and bridges falling apart. And these clowns complaining about the presidents job numbers. They should be ashamed but are to stupid to see the damage they have done to the American people with their political infighting. Vote these turkeys out.

    May 2, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Pete

    Just remember republicans how you ran your 2012 campaigns on jobs,jobs,jobs and after being elected you hypocrites then turned your back on your voters..Hey turn coats democrates,independents remember so start boxing up your personals to be moved this November and don't say we didn't warn yah..

    May 2, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Harold Read

    The unemployment rate is down!!! This is truly an Obamanation success!
    Who cares if we have the lowest employment participation rate in over 34 years!
    Who cares US economic growth is only 0.1 for Q1?
    Who cares the US list it's AAA credit rating under Obama's watch?
    Who cares we have one the highest food stamp participation rates on decades?
    Who cares that China will overtake the US as the World's most powerful economy before year's end?

    Forward!!!

    May 2, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    Yes, Economy is doing lot better. I want my hours cut, but we are not finding people to work. I am given more hours than I need. True. It reflects Economy is doing lot better.

    May 2, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "A mostly positive jobs report Friday didn't stop Republicans from criticizing the White House over the economy."

    Well, it hasn't stopped GOPerville whine yet. What makes CNN think it would otherwise?

    "Economic realities, as well as perceptions, will influence voters in 2014. The big question is whether those economic realities, and perceptions, will change between now and the November midterm elections."

    Ah, yes. Reality vs Perception. Got it.

    May 2, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. Mr. Moderate

    What Boehner and company hate to acknowledge is that due to an aging population most of the decline in the labor force is due to retirements. A February 2014 report from the Philadelphia Federal reserve showed that 65% of the decline in the labor force is due to retirement. Since 2012, that number has increased to 80%.

    May 2, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. smith

    The economy is in the tank and Im tired of hearing the excuses. Obama has failed with regards to the economy. The jobs being added are low paying or min. wage and most are not even full time. Do some job searches in your spare time it`s really sad. Then we have kids going off to college and choosing to major in a field that pays nothing. They get a degree that is worthless and their in massive debt.

    May 2, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  11. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The GOP has spent the last 6 years trying to sabotage President Obama. In the process they only hurt the poor and the middle class. When will we finally wake up and vote these traitors out of office?

    May 2, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Yeah, yeah. What's new about this? And Sniffitt I agree completely with you on the fact that the GOP wants to pretend that President Obama didn't win in 08 or 12. They started prattling about 12 the day after the 08 election and did the same the day after the 12 election. They have showed him nothing but utter disrespect and disdain from day 1. I just hope and pray the dems grow some because when the GOP gets the WH back I want to see their POTUS treated exactly the same way by the dems and the MSM. 😡

    May 2, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Because the recovery has been relatively modest, moderate in its strength, there's this psychology among people that it's just not getting better out in America,"
    -------------------------------------------------
    Because Republicans, in spite of consistent drops in unemployment levels, have done nothing but bash, demean, and disregard said improvements there's this psychology among people tha it's just not getting better out in America.
    FIFY

    May 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The jobs being added are low paying or min. wage and most are not even full time."

    Well, to be honest when God said "go forth and multiply" there were fewer mouths to feed. 350 million and counting is a lot of mouths to feed.

    Gotta come up with jobs in the private sector ... yes?

    May 2, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. jillib

    "... this report also indicates more than 800,000 Americans left the workforce last month, which is troubling,"

    Really? Not completely. Perhaps they deliberately and purposely chose to leave the workforce. With the implementation of "Obamacare" workers now have the freedom to leave jobs in search of better ones or retire early because they're no longer dependent on their jobs for health insurance. It's given the American worker more choices. Where's the downside to that?

    Republicans are floundering...we can't have good news. BENGHAZI!!!!!!

    May 2, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. hammerhead

    wow more hamberger joints opening up....how about jobs to build a pipe line...na they pay to much to the workers...

    May 2, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Bessy

    There is never any pleasing the GOP. Never ! They keep repeating their nonsense hoping that enough people will believe them to keep voting Republican. And you know what, there are still enough idiots out there that will do just that.

    May 2, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. jillib

    Wow, in reality, all Americans should be celebrating this news. Unfortunately, there's a portion of the citizenry and "leadership" that aren't rooting for workers, and aren't rooting for success for the nation – they're the ones trying to paint an alternate reality where a drop in the unemployment rate and the creation of jobs is a bad thing. There's something unAmerican about that type of stunt. BENGHAZI!!!! Shame on them.

    May 2, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Michael

    Our "government" needs to stop allowing all these big corporations to send jobs outside the US and giving them tax breaks to do it! Make them bring the jobs back home. If they don't want to hire American workers and keep the factories here then they should move to the countries where their employees are and see what kind of tax breaks they get there. Government, corporations and Big Oil are stealing this country blind. Seriously, what executives are worth the extraordinary salaries they recieve. They should all have to live on the same salaries as they pay to their employees.

    Raising the minimum wage won't solve the inequality alone as all it will happen is that the cost of purchases to the general public for ALL goods will just increase and the lower/middle class will be right where they are now.

    The FAT CATS will not take a pay cut from their multi million paychecks to pay for it, they will just pass it on to the consumers who already cannot afford it.

    If these companies and corprations can't keep their assets in this country to supply Americans with jobs, then they should pack their businesses and leave.

    May 2, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. TONE

    Obama cleaned up the gop mess, and they did not lift a finger to help, now they are complaining about the economy that is showing signs of recovery with good job numbers. Gop voters you need to stop being gullible, in 2010, and 2012 they ran on jobs and did not create any, as a matter of fact the gop have not created any jobs since 2001. these guys need to go, NOV cannot get here fast enough, and i am fired up so fired up that i go out and encourage young people in my community to vote out incompetents.

    May 2, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  21. Dead Bear

    If the state of the economy is the biggest issue this November, the GOP will not win in a landslide as they predict. Their party owns the worst track record when it comes to enacting policies to stimulate economic growth. Historically, they have proven themselves terribly inept or utterly clueless when it comes to the subject. Do they think everyone else has forgotten this fact like it seems that their base has? Why even ask Republicans about ways to improve the economy, the only responses you'll get is "cut taxes on the wealthy" and "repeal Obamacare"???

    May 2, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The unemployment level has been measured by the Labor Department using the same formula that they've used under any previous administration.
    However, it appears that so long as THIS administration is in charge of the country, any improvement in the unemployment situation is non-existent according to the GOP.
    The GOP has been consistently and doggedly negatively spinning the improvement that our economy has made under the steady and resolute leadership of THIS President since day one. It is therefore no surprise to me that that kind of stinking thinking has managed to seep into the subconscious of some.

    May 2, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. Bessy

    Whenever anything starts to look good for Obama the GOP always brings up something like Benghazi to try and take the American people's attention away from the good news. Just one of their tactics.

    May 2, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Reggie53

    the 6.3% does not show the true picture of people who are still unemployed. When a person drops out of unemployment records they should be regarded as being still unemployed. How can you just forget these people when they do not have a job and they are not collecting unemployment benefits.....they are still unemployed. Also people on welfare should be counted as being unemployed because they are not in the workforce and they are collecting government benefits. This a false report and I am sure the true unemployment is closer to 12% than to the 6.3% that the labor department has put out. False information is no better than no information. It is worse because it is deceiving the American people into thinking that things are getting better but they are not. Actually they are getting worse and we are sinking more into that hole that Obama has dug for us.

    May 2, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ smith
    Somebody woke up a little grumpy this morning, lol!
    You're entitled to your opinion of course but you can't blame just the President. What about Congress?
    In regards to our military being cut back, I believe that modern technology in weaponry and elsewhere does not necessitate us to maintain the same levels of military manpower that we had during WWII.
    Make it a great day smith.

    May 2, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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