Steve Chiotakis: News this morning from the Labor Department that the economy didn’t create any jobs in August. The first time since 1945 that a monthly jobs report came in at exactly zero. The unemployment rate didn’t change either. We’re going to hear what the White House is saying about this report. Gene Sperling is the director of the White House National Economic Council. And he’s with us live from Washington. Good morning, Gene.
Gene Sperling: Good morning.
Steve Chiotakis: In today’s report, can you point to any piece of news that’s cause for optimism?
Sperling: Well, what I would point out is that if you actually look at private sector job creation, it was probably over 60,000 this month. In other words, private-sector jobs came in at 17,000, but that included subtracting 45,000 of the Verizon workers who are on strike. So I guess, just to put things in perspective, we have created over a million private-sector jobs in our economy — the private sector has. And that there was probably over 60,000 this month. But that said, whether it’s 60-, 80-, or 100,000, none of that is good enough for this president. And it’s not good for our economy. When you have inherited the type of deep hole that we have inherited, this was the greatest recession since the 1930s and it’s also a financial crisis-drive recession. Those are the hardest economic holes to dig your way out of, and the lesson is you’ve got to stay at it and stay at it. And the things that were done in the recovery, the banking rescue efforts, made a huge difference in keeping us from going into depression, into getting us into a situation where we are at least creating a million private-sector jobs this year. But when the hole is so deep and unemployment is so significant and so many people are hurting and suffering, you just cannot afford to not keep taking aggressive action.
Chiotakis: Well, let’s talk about the aggressive action because the president is going to outline in his jobs speech next week several steps. What’s in his arsenal, Gene?
Sperling: Well, there’s no doubt the president will talk about his overall vision, including long-term fiscal soundness in terms of investing in education and innovation. But there will be a focus in this speech about what we can do right now that will have a very meaningful impact on job growth and overall growth in the next 12-18 months. Because we’re not going to accomplish anything in our country, we’re not going to live the values we need to live, we’re not going to help the workers we need to help unless we get jobs growing, demand. Small businesses need to see customers, larger businesses need to have the confidence to start taking cash off the sidelines and investing. What the president will do is he’ll make very significant proposals and I can’t give you all the details, but three particular areas.
One, there’s no question there will be a piece of tax relief for workers and for small businesses.Two, there will be a significant job creation piece through helping to rebuild the country. And third, there will be a comprehensive strategy that addresses dealing with those who are long-term unemployed.
Chiotakis: The long-term unemployed, certainly.
Sperling: One of the hardest things in this economy is those who have been unemployed for six months or longer at no fault of their own. There will be several steps to try to address that.
Chiotakis: We’re going to have to wrap it up there. Gene, thank you so much for joining us.
Sperling: Thank you for having me.
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