Our nation’s labor market improved notably in the month of February. Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000, and the unemployment rate decreased to 8.9 percent — exceeding the consensus forecast and adding 60,000 workers to the labor market. Today’s numbers highlight steady, sustained and widespread job growth. The bottom line: The policies and programs of this administration are working.
There is no doubt that the economy we preside over today is better than it was two years ago. An economy that was once shrinking is now growing again. We’ve seen private sector job growth for 12 straight months — adding 1.5 million jobs. And the unemployment rate has dropped nine-tenths of a percent in the last three months — a drop we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. I feel very good about where we’re heading.
But we know there’s still more work to be done for the millions of people who are either out of work or struggling to offset their rising costs with shrinking paychecks. It’s why President Obama championed a tax package on behalf of American families last year. And it’s why in the last couple of months our recovery has picked up the pace.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama discussed the need to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build our global competitors in order to win the future.
The president knows we must also break down the barriers that stand in the way of the success of American business. He signed export deals with India and China. He has recently finalized a U.S.-Korea trade agreement with unprecedented support from business and labor, and since taking office has signed 17 tax cuts for small businesses into law.
We face big challenges, and fixing them will require a lot of hard work and sacrifice from everyone. But if we’re willing to come together and find common ground on these issues, then we can win the future. We can lay the foundation for American competiveness for years to come and give this generation, and pass on to the next, the type of America that our parents and grandparents left for us.
While the employment situation is clearly improving, my mission remains the same: to create good and safe jobs for everyone. It is what the American people are counting on and a goal we will continue to keep at the forefront of everything we do.