Politics

Obama Exits With Longest Job Growth Streak In Decades

| by Robert Fowler

The Labor Department has released its final monthly report of President Barack Obama's second term. The United States had 156,000 jobs added in Dec. 2016, marking the longest streak of job growth in over 75 years.

On Jan. 6, the Labor Department released its latest jobs report, disclosing that the unemployment rate had crept up to 4.7 percent in December, a rise of 0.1 percentage points compared to Nov. 2016, The Hill reports.

The number of jobs that the United States added this past month was below expectations, but the overall record of job growth during Obama's tenure in the White House has outperformed his critics’ expectations.

In 2012, when former Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts ran against Obama as the GOP nominee, he had pledged to bring the unemployment rate down to 6 percent by 2016.

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"I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we'd put in place, we'd get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, and perhaps a little lower," Romney said in May 2012, according to The Washington Post.

Based on that campaign promise, the current 4.7 unemployment rate indicates that the Obama administration has outperformed Romney's expectations, handing off a solid economy to President-elect Donald Trump.

When Obama took office in 2009, the unemployment rate had risen to 7.8 percent during the dawn of the Great Recession. In Oct. 2009, the unemployment rate hit a peak of 10 percent.

During the second half of Obama's first term and throughout his second term, the unemployment rate steadily declined as the U.S. economy added jobs for 75 consecutive months, marking the longest streak of job growth since 1939.

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The Labor Department report also found that the average hourly earnings for Americans rose by 10 cents in December, capping off an overall 2.9 percent rise in earnings during 2016.

Chief investment officer Jim Baird of Plante Moran Financial Advisors believes that Trump's promises to increase infrastructure spending and to dramatically reduce tax rates in the United States will yield continued job growth during his first year in office.

"With the potential for stronger fiscal stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and tax cuts, job creation appears likely to remain on a solid footing in 2017," Baird told Reuters.

Political scientist Mark J. Rozell of George Mason University in Virginia noted that Obama is handing his successor a far healthier economy than Obama inherited from former President George W. Bush in 2009.

"Trump can be thankful that his predecessor is handing him a fairly strong situation, especially when compared to many past party transfers of power," Rozell told The New York Times.

Sources: The Hill, The New York TimesReutersThe Washington Post / Photo credit: Ash Carter/Flickr

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