Gene Sperling: What we still need for employment to improve

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2011

Gene Sperling: What we still need for employment to improve

Marketplace Staff Nov 4, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: The nation’s economy created 80,000 jobs in October, according to the latest Labor Department report. The unemployment rate improved, dropping 0.1 percent to 9 percent.

Gene Sperling is Director of the National Economic Council. He’s with us this morning
from the White House. Good morning sir.

Gene Sperling: Good morning.

Chiotakis: Another month of job growth, but it still seems like it’s just not enough — what’s going on here?

Sperling: No, that’s exactly right. We are having steady private sector job growth. This economy’s created over 1.5 million private sector jobs this year; almost 300,000 over the last two months. Maybe in a normal year, that would be OK — but when you are coming back from the worst recession our economy’s experienced since the Great Depression, you’re in a deep hole. And you have to have stronger growth and stronger job growth than this to start bringing the unemployment rate down and really get our economy back to where it should be.

And that’s why what we’re doing is focusing on trying to pass the American Jobs Act, because we have to give a greater jolt to this economy by putting construction workers back to work, rebuilding our roads and bridges. By giving payroll tax relief to every family, every small business —

Chiotakis: But the Republicans have said that they’re not going to do it. That they may do it piecemeal, but they’re certainly not going to do the whole thing.

Sperling: I think we just have to make the case — which the American people strongly support us on — that we have to do as much as possible to get job growth going. And they’ve already bought the American Jobs Act, but we’re out right now trying to at least pass each and every piece that we can.

And the point I make is that these have been traditionally bi-partisan measures. Infrastructure is something that’s always been supported by Democrats and Republicans. And now consider the Payroll Tax cut — the president signed this into law last December. Families have an extra $1,000 in their pocket this year, which has helped them deal with the higher gas prices, it’s help pushing our economy.

If Republicans are not willing to work with us on a strong jobs plan, it means that taxes will actually go up by a $1,000.

Chiotakis: But don’t Republicans say regulations need to be cut and yeah, the taxes need to be cut — is that off the table from your perspective? They’re saying that you’re a hindrance to job creation.

Sperling: You know, this president has done quite a lot to bring in common sense to regulation, and there’s a lot of long-term measures they’ve proposed. Some we support — like the trade agreements and patent reforms — some we don’t support.

But let’s just be serious — those are not measures that have to do with giving our economy the jolt it needs to stop creating jobs. And right now, unfortunately, the only jobs plan out there — the only thing that means one to two million more jobs in our economy for next year — is the president’s plan.

And if people are going to vote no, they need to come forward with a significant alternative that would create jobs next year. You can’t just sit on your hands or just package together policies that have nothing to do with job creation next year. So we’re going to keep fighting each and every day.

Chiotakis: We’re going to have to wrap it up there sir. Thank you, Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council. Thanks.

Sperling: Thank you.

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