The Resilience of the American Economy

The American economy is resilient. October’s jobs report demonstrates continued steady growth, with the addition of 212,000 total private sector jobs in October. The unemployment rate, which fell in September to a nearly-five year low of 7.2 percent, remains essentially unchanged at 7.3 percent, while American manufacturers added 19,000 jobs in the month of October.

Monthly Change in Total Private Employment, February 2008-October 2013. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Program.

But while American businesses continue to add jobs — 7.8 million over the last 44 months of private sector job growth — they do so in spite of Congress, not because of it. October’s job growth was undoubtedly restrained by the brinksmanship and uncertainty created by the federal government shutdown and the near-default on the nation’s debt.

The American economy is resilient, but it is not immune to manufactured crises. We see signs that suggest the shutdown had a discouraging effect on America’s continued recovery. We remain concerned about the drop in the labor force participation rate, and American workers on temporary layoffs rose by nearly 448,000, the largest monthly increase in the history of that series of data.

The American people deserve leadership that focuses on growing the economy — not holding it hostage. Let’s keep our eye on the ball by passing immigration reform, which has bipartisan support and would inject a trillion dollars into the economy, and investing in infrastructure upgrades that would create thousands of middle class jobs right now. Instead of erecting political roadblocks, let’s work together to pave bipartisan roads to full recovery.

Employment in Major Industries Since the Employment Trough, February 2010-October 2013. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Program.

Today’s employment numbers are a reminder that while the economy continues to grow and create new jobs, it remains on uncertain footing. Too many Americans still find the rungs on the ladder of opportunity beyond their reach. We need to move forward with common-sense proposals that will create jobs, strengthen the middle class, reduce our deficit and expand opportunity for American families. The president and I stand ready to work with Congress to do just that.

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