Carney: No danger of ‘satisfactorily low’ unemployment rate

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

White House press secretary Jay Carney today touted a few favorable numbers in the monthly jobs report, but downplayed the likelihood of major future gains.

“We’re not in any danger of reaching a point where the unemployment rate is satisfactorily low,” Carney said.

The November data showed an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, down from 9.0 percent in October. That’s “21 months straight now of private sector job growth,” Carney said.

He acknowledged that the formal unemployment rate among African-Americans nudged up from 15.1 percent to 15.5 percent. That trend will further shake his support in a community that is critical to his 2012 election. Unemployment among whites is 7.6 percent.

Carney sidestepped a question about the rising number of unemployed Americans who have stopped looking for jobs and left the workforce entirely.

Roughly 13.3 million unemployed Americans are now looking for work.

Another 10 million people have given up looking, or can only find a part-time job. If they resumed their job searches, they would again be registered as unemployed, and the unemployment rate would rise to roughly 11 percent, say analysts.

In November, another 315,000 Americans stopped looking for work. If they were still looking for a job, the unemployment rate would be 9.3 percent, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Another set of government data shows almost half a million people, or 487,000 people, dropped out of the workforce in November.

The percentage of the population that has a job continued its decline from 62.9 percent in January 2008, to 58.5 percent in November 2011.

The U.S. unemployment rate is also boosted by roughly 160,000 additional people entering the workforce each month, and by the arrival of roughly 70,000 working-age legal immigrants each month. The economy generated only 120,000 new jobs in November.

Carney used press conference to again promote the president’s one-year, deficit-funded American Jobs Act stimulus plan. The stimulus package would spend $447 billion in the year before the November election, and promise to pay for the package by cutting future spending by more than $460 billion over the next decade.

Follow Neil on Twitter