Economy Grows But Jobless Number Still Soars

The nation's economic pulse is starting to beat more powerfully, but it's still too soon to crack open the champagne, President Obama noted Thursday after new numbers showed the economy grew in the third quarter.

The gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent, up from a 0.7 percent drop in the second quarter, and "the largest three-month gain we have seen in two years," Obama said at a small business event Thursday.

"This is obviously welcome news and an affirmation that this recession is abating and the steps we've taken have made a difference."

But persistently dismal jobless numbers still dampen any talk of a full recovery in the near future. The Labor Department reported Thursday that weekly numbers for newly laid-off workers fell by 1,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 530,000, less than than the 521,000 government economists had expected.

House Minority Leader John Boehner indicated that's the true measure of recovery.

"I'm pleased that the GDP numbers this morning were up. But the question is, where are the jobs?" he asked.

That's also a sentiment the administration has openly expressed and the president revisited Thursday. "The benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy is not just whether our GDP is growing, but whether we are creating jobs, whether families are having an easier time paying their bills, whether our businesses are hiring and doing well."

The economy's personal impact on Americans has been the central concern of administration critics, who say people don't feel the economic downturn in abstract GDP terms. They feel it, they say, in their paychecks, or lack thereof.

The administration has tried to show it recognizes this. In remarks to a House hearing Thursday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the situation on American families is "alive and acute."

Still, compounding Republican concerns is the health care reform bill touted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday.

"This bill right here, the Pelosi health care bill, will do nothing more than to kill millions more American jobs," said Boehner, R-Ohio.

Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer chose to look to the horizon.

"The turnaround in crucial labor market indicators, such as employment and the unemployment rate, typically occurs after the turnaround in GDP."