After months of saying things aren't as bad as they used to be, the March jobs report allowed the White House to finally say things are getting better, even if they're not getting better fast enough. President Obama told workers at a company in Charlotte, N.C., the 162 thousand jobs created in March showed we're 'beginning to turn the corner.' But at that rate of job creation it would take more than 4 years to make up the 8.4 million jobs lost since the recession began.
Republicans, meanwhile, pointed to the 3 million jobs lost since the stimulus bill was signed as proof the nearly $800 billion package isn't effective. House Minority leader John Boehner said the nation's employers are being 'pummeled' by what he called 'Washington Democrats job-killing agenda.' Boehner said the new health care reforms are already 'squeezing businesses with...job killing tax increases,' noting the charges several big companies have taken after losing the ability to write off the government subsidies they received to supplement their retirees' prescription drug coverage.
Mr. Obama took aim at Republicans' criticism of the stimulus plan, speaking to employees of a company named Celgard, which makes components for the lithium ion batteries used in electric cars. With the help of $50 million in stimulus money, the company has hired 300 more workers and begun construction of a second plant, adding roughly a thousand jobs to the local economy. Equally important, the President said, Celgard and other companies have taken a big chunk out of a market dominated by foreign firms. Before the stimulus bill US firms had the capacity to make less than 2 percent of the world's lithium ion batters. Based on the current trajectory, he said, the US will be making 40% of the batteries in five years.
The White House concedes today's jobs report was a mixed bag. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said there are numbers within the report that create 'genuine cause for concern,' especially the record 3.7 million people who have been out of work for half a year or more. At the same time officials are heartened by revisions of earlier reports that show the economy gained jobs in January instead of losing them, and only lost half as many jobs in February as was initially reported. Added together, the economy averaged a gain of 50 thousand jobs a month over the first quarter of 2010. The President said the figures show 'we've broken this slide.'
Wendell Goler serves as a senior White House and foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC), joining the network in 1996.