A slightly better-than-expected June jobs report prompted mixed reactions in Washington, as the White House hailed the positive jobs growth and Republicans searched for flaws in the estimate.
The economy added an estimated 195,000 jobs in June, according to the monthly report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday morning. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.6 percent, though the report was highlighted by the jobs figure, which outpaced most forecasters’ estimates.
"The economy has now added private sector jobs for 40 consecutive months, and a total of 7.2 million jobs has been added over that period," said Alan Krueger, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. "In spite of monthly volatility, over the past three years the pace of job growth has increased each year. So far this year, 1.23 million private sector jobs have been added."
To be sure, the report on Friday offered a modest political boon to President Barack Obama. Despite dire warnings about the effect of the ongoing sequester – the automatic, indiscriminate cuts to federal spending that were enacted earlier this year – the economy continues to add jobs, though not at the type of robust pace that would be needed to further reduce the unemployment rate.
But Republicans seized on some indicators of persistent economic weakness in the jobs report, namely a surge in part-time workers reflected in the statistics, and an uptick in the U-6 unemployment rate from 13.8 percent in May to 14.3 percent in June. The U-6 rate is a broader measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and the underemployed.
“There’s some good news in this report, but economic growth is still tepid, the unemployment rate is far too high, and the president continues to promote policies that undermine robust job creation,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement.
Boehner and other top Republicans used the June jobs report specifically to ding Obama over his administration’s announcement earlier this week that it would delay a key component of its health care reform law, the penalty for most employers who fail to offer insurance to their workers.
"ObamaCare has been predicted to be a drain on employment since before its passage and that outcome was confirmed by the Obama Administration’s delay of the employer mandate," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement. "Delaying the inevitable for one year will bring no solace. We must have a permanent delay of ObamaCare before we can realize our full job creating potential."