Strong economic growth continued in the month of June, with a total of 288,000 new jobs. It is the fifth consecutive month with job growth of at least 200,000, and this is the most total jobs added in the first half of a year since 1999. Businesses created 262,000 more jobs in June, bringing us to a total of 9.7 million new private-sector jobs over the last 52 months − the longest such streak on record. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent, down significantly from 7.5 percent a year ago.
Even as the economy continues its steady recovery, there's plenty of work still to do to empower the middle class and create opportunity for everyone willing to work hard and take responsibility. Too many people, despite their best efforts, are still struggling to make ends meet, finding the American Dream beyond their grasp.
Now is the moment to further invigorate our economy -- by rewarding hard work with fair wages; by pursuing paid leave and other policies that provide security for working families; by upgrading our nation's aging infrastructure; by investing in apprenticeship and training programs that prepare people for jobs that are available right now.
But on too many of these issues, Congress continues to sit on its hands instead of working constructively with President Obama to move the nation and the economy forward. Its refusal to extend emergency unemployment benefits has cut off nearly 3 million people who are trying their hardest to find work.
It's been one year since the Senate passed a strong bill to fix our broken immigration system, but still the House refuses to act, despite broad public support for a common-sense, bipartisan measure. Failure to enact immigration reform has come at a cost -- $8 billion less in economic activity. That's why the president announced this week that he will look to fill the leadership void and take executive action wherever possible to bring our immigration system into the 21st century.
As we celebrate the nation's birthday tomorrow, let's remind ourselves that for more than two centuries the United States has always been at its strongest when we work together to make progress, expand opportunity and give everyone a fair shot to succeed. In the spirit of Independence Day, let's renew our commitment to meet shared challenges with unity and resolve.