President and Congress React to New Jobs Numbers

President Obama received news of the 290,000 jobs created in April with a grain of salt, if not a smallish one. Along with the uptick in jobs, came an increase in the overall unemployment rate from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent of the population.

The president credited his administration's response to the sour economy, "These numbers are particularly heartening when you consider where we were a year ago, with an economy in freefall," he told reporters at the White House.

His Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was blunt, "Today's jobs report and last week's GDP report show the Recovery Act is working."

But House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia said it's too early to see a trend, "Even if the economy added 250,000 jobs every month, it would take nearly five years to get back to full employment."

And what about that increase in the jobless rate? "Given the strength of these job numbers, this may seem contradictory, but this increase is largely a reflection of the fact that workers who had dropped out of the workforce entirely are now... seeking jobs again, encouraged by better prospects," Mr. Obama explained.

Economist and University of Maryland Professor Peter Morici, agrees. "Unemployment rose because many discouraged workers returned to the labor force and unemployment benefits are running out for some workers pushing families harder into the jobs market."

But as both Democrats and Republicans have proclaimed, the private sector is key to both boosting and sustaining jobs.

Morici says there are complicating factors, as well, "Businesses need customers and capital to invest in new facilities and create jobs. Slow growing private demand-- less than 2 percent-- is the big problem," he says.

The president himself acknowledges the baby-steps involved, "So this week's job numbers come as a relief to Americans who found a job, but it offers, obviously, little comfort to those who are still out of work. So to those who are out there still looking, I give you my word that I'm going to keep fighting every single day to create jobs and opportunities for people."