Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Economist Kate Bahn released the following statement today on the January 2017 employment situation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS:
This month’s jobs report is the final release of data that reflects how the labor market fared under President Barack Obama, with 227,000 jobs added—near the average for the past two years of a little more than 200,000 per month—and the unemployment rate rising slightly to 4.8 percent. The labor market has had 76 months of consistent job growth under Obama administration policies that expanded labor market opportunities to more people. The world will be watching closely in the coming months to see how the labor market responds to the drastic new policies under President Donald Trump. The stock market has rallied since November, reflecting market optimism, in contrast to the pessimism of academic economists. Time and data will tell if this optimism is warranted in the labor market and even in the stock market.
Dramatic and ill-conceived bans on immigrants and refugees not only go against deeply held American values, but they can also reverberate throughout the economy. An adequate supply of workers at all skill levels—through immigration—is crucial to long-term economic growth, particularly as native-born Baby Boomers leave the workforce in ever-increasing numbers.
As we watch where the economy will go under Trump, data such as those provided by the Employment Situation Summary changes is dependent on high-quality data collection from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such data is necessary for the economic analysis needed to understand how our economy is doing and how to develop effective policy. The federal hiring freeze and suspicion of facts by the current administration worry many economists who are concerned that agencies will be limited in their ability to collect and disseminate this data. Lacking a respected economist to lead the Council of Economic Advisers only makes things worse. Going forward, the president and Congress must maintain the ability of the nonpartisan statistical agencies, such as the BLS and the U.S. Census Bureau, to do their work in order to receive accurate reports on the health of the U.S. economy.
Related resource: The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-February 2017 Jobs Release by Kate Bahn, Annie McGrew, and Gregg Gelzinis
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