jobless rate

Jobless rate rises to 7.9 percent as economy sends mixed signals

by  |  published on February 2, 2013

The U.S. economy continued to send out mixed signals Friday, with the Labor Department reporting that the unemployment rate rose last month to 7.9 percent even as hiring was stronger over the past two years than previously thought.

The rate increase was modest, up from 7.8 percent in December. But it reflected the ongoing fragility of the recovery. A Commerce Department report earlier this week showed the economy unexpectedly shrank in the fourth quarter of last year, for the first time since 2009. Another report Thursday showed applications for jobless benefits rose sharply over the last week.

This comes as President Obama’s jobs council expired Thursday after meeting just a few times over two years. The White House pledged to begin a “new, expanded effort to work with the business community and other outside groups to advance specific policy priorities promoted by the jobs council.”

But House Speaker John Boehner said the latest numbers show “this is the wrong time for President Obama to scrap his jobs council.”

“Month after month we see the same thing: high unemployment and even more debt. More than 12 million Americans are still unemployed, and it’s been that way for far too long,” he said in a statement.

The monthly numbers released Friday showed that U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs in January.

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