In the month of February, the country's economy created 227,000 jobs according to the U.S. Department of Labor and the unemployment rate held steady at 8.3%. While praising the jobs created, Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) warned against letting the somewhat positive report distract from the larger task at hand.
"Those who celebrate this report risk missing the forest for the trees," said Kingston. "While this is a positive step, it is not nearly the kind of growth we need. At this rate, it would take 10 years just to return to the level of employment we had at the start of the recession. For the millions of Americans who want work but cannot find a job and for those who searched so long they have given up, we must do more to reignite our economy."
Kingston noted that the unemployment rate does not paint an accurate picture as it simply ignores those who have given up looking for work. The real unemployment rate, which takes those individuals as well as those want full time work but are forced to work part time, stands at 14.9% according to the Labor Department's report. In total, there are 23.5 million Americans who are either out of work or underemployed.
The situation for those who find themselves out of work has also deteriorated. According to the Labor Department, the average duration of unemployment has doubled since President Obama took office increasing from just less than 20 weeks to 40 weeks.
While the President promised his stimulus legislation would prevent unemployment from ever reaching 8%, it has remained above that level for 37 consecutive months. That is the longest stretch of unemployment at that level since the Great Depression. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it will remain at that elevated level through 2014.
"When you look at what is really happening in our economy, it is staggering," Kingston said. "These aren't just statistics. These are American families struggling to get by, workers hanging on for dear life, and small businesses fighting just to keep their doors open. Time and again, however, they are faced with barriers to growth set in place by their own government. We must remove these barriers and do more to create an economic environment conducive to business expansion and job creation."
To that end, Kingston points to the 27 bipartisan job creation measures passed by the House and are awaiting Senate action. From tax and regulatory relief to capital formation assistance and labor reform, he sees these as good starting point.
"I hope Senator Reid will take a look at the proposals we have put forth," he said. "Many of the things we passed have since been proposed by the President's own jobs council. If he cannot find a single measure of common ground then he should pass his own so we can work together to move our country forward."