This morning, the Department of Labor announced that our economy picked up 114,000 jobs in September and that unemployment dipped to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent in August. Cracking the 8 percent unemployment barrier for the first time in nearly four years is a morale boost, but it's not "mission accomplished." My hope is that this report is not a one-month wonder.
Unfortunately, there still are over 12 million Americans out of work and 23.2 million who are underemployed . A deeper look at this month's jobs report shows that two-thirds of newly employed Americans accepted part-time work while millions more have given up the job hunt, which explains the larger than expected drop in unemployment rate despite relatively modest growth.
According to leaders of large and small businesses, the slow pace of hiring is due in large part to the January 1st fiscal cliff and uncertainty surrounding looming tax hikes.
The cliff also represents a threat to wage earners. This week, The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center reported that if Congress doesn't stop the hikes, taxes would climb by $536 billion in 2013, with the average middle-class family owing an extra $2,000 in taxes.
We cannot pick up the pace of our economic recovery without stopping the looming tax hikes and providing the private sector with the economic certainty it needs to put more Americans back to work. As I've mentioned before, in the House, we voted 256-171 to stop the hike. The Senate has yet to act, but I am keeping my foot on the pedal and pushing my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put job seekers back to work and help businesses grow again.