Further evidence that the focus of this year's election cycle will most likely shift away from the war and the Middle East, and more towards the economy. The US lost 17,000 jobs in January, the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.
The U.S. unexpectedly lost jobs for the first time in more than four years, increasing the odds the economy will fall into a recession and making it likely the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates another half point next month.
Payrolls fell by 17,000 in January after an 82,000 gain in December that was larger than initially reported, the Labor Department said today in Washington. None of the 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predicted a decline.
Employment is one of the indicators, along with wages, production and sales, that help determine the start of economic contractions. The decline poses a further threat to consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, after households were already hurt by falling home and stock values.
Exxon's records record profits, and meanwhile more and more Americans are joining the ranks of the unemployed. The rapid rate-cutting indicates that the Fed and Bush administration were caught napping, and hoped they could skate through this and get out the door before the roof fell in. Even now Bush refers to this as a possible downturn - glad to see he's got a grip on the situation.
Ahh, take a deep breath and enjoy the last vestiges of Republican rule. Clinton is clearly the better choice to lead this country out of a recession, and back into the boom days we enjoyed in the 1990s. Let's see, 1991 - where was Barack? Ah, just out of college. Obama hasn't spent any time in his adult life living through a recession, much less managing one, but he'll tell us that if he's elected there's hope, and that things will change.
I won't bet my paycheck on it.
Update: Both Clinton and Obama have seized the news of the bad jobs report to pound on Bush over the worsening economy.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama turned their attention to the U.S. economy on Friday following a Thursday night debate in which the two rival Democratic presidential contenders politely disagreed over health care and Iraq.
Clinton wasted no time Friday morning seizing on a far weaker-than-expected January jobs report, saying it "confirms my view that we are sliding into a second Bush recession.
"During the same month that President Bush declared that the state of our union was strong, the economy lost 17,000 jobs, the worst jobs performance in four-and-a-half years," Clinton said in a statement an hour after the report was released.
Not to be outdone, Obama blasted out a statement of his own shortly after Clinton did.
"It is time to provide immediate relief to families who are struggling in this economy, and it's time to turn the page on the failed Bush policies of tax breaks for those who didn't need them and didn't ask for them so we can put America back on the path to prosperity and opportunity," the Illinois senator said.
Obama is holding an economic summit in Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday, one of the states where Democrats will caucus on Tuesday as part of the 24-state "Super Tuesday."
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