Washington, D.C. – At his first hearing as Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) was encouraged by today’s jobs report and by the continued growth in private sector employment in March. Dr. Keith Hall, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), presented the March jobs report before Congress.
The economy added 230,000 private sector jobs in March, following a gain of 240,000 private sector jobs in February. This two month gain is the strongest in the past five years.
“Today’s numbers show that we have now added private sector jobs for the last 13 months and that the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.8 percent. The unemployment rate has fallen by one percentage point since November. It is encouraging to see continued growth in vital sectors of the economy like professional and business services and manufacturing. Even with the recent job gains, however, we need stronger growth to regain the jobs 8.4 million jobs lost during the recession. 13.5 million Americans are still unemployed and 45.5 percent of these workers have been jobless for six months or more.
“The manufacturing sector, a bright spot in the recovery and central to our nation’s long-term competitiveness, added 17,000 jobs in March, and has added more than 200,000 jobs since February 2010. As Commissioner Hall noted in his testimony today, we are gaining back some of the 2 million manufacturing jobs lost during the recession.
Casey continued, “As we have added private sector jobs for the last 13 months, the pace of job growth has accelerated. In the past two months alone, the economy has gained almost half a million private sector jobs.”
GDP has grown for the past six quarters and grew 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. Today, the committee heard testimony from BLS Commissioner Dr. Keith Hall which stated that, coming out of a recession, a return to GDP growth always precedes job growth. “It is typically the case that GDP starts to grow out of a recession in advance of job growth…that’s not atypical. In fact, [this 8 month lag time] that’s faster than the last couple of recessions,” said Commissioner Hall. To view video of this exchange, click here.
The JEC is charged with reviewing economic conditions and analyzing the effectiveness of economic policy. As Chairman, Senator Casey looks forward to hearing from business leaders and other experts who can help identify policies and practices that will generate additional private sector jobs, strengthen the manufacturing sector, and support the economic recovery.