“The remarkable U.S. recovery continues, as total nonfarm employment increased by 215,000 in March. Beginning just a year after President Obama inherited the worst economic crisis in generations, businesses have been adding jobs at an extended, record-setting clip: a total of 14.4 million jobs over the last 73 consecutive months of private-sector job growth. The March unemployment rate was little changed at 5.0 percent. The labor force participation rate and employment-population ratio are trending up, reaching two-year and seven-year highs respectively.
“Other indicators continue to demonstrate a vibrant, growing economy. Consumer confidence increased last month; the labor market continues to strengthen, with 5.5 million job openings as of the end of January; weekly initial unemployment insurance claims remain consistently low in a way we haven’t seen in more than four decades. Meanwhile, the recovery began at just about the moment the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, six years ago last week. So much for the doomsday predictions that the ACA would wreck the economy – all it’s done is bring the uninsured rate at or near an all-time low, with more than nine in 10 Americans now enjoying health coverage.
“There are so many reasons to be bullish about our economic future, but we can’t become complacent about the challenges that remain. Continued weakness in manufacturing, for example, is a reminder that we must keep working to restore balance to the economy, to ensure that the recovery benefits people in all communities, up and down the income spectrum.
“As I make house calls in my travels across the country, I meet with people whose hard work isn’t rewarded with fair pay, who can barely get by, let alone get ahead. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents in March. But the long-range trend of flat wages, pre-dating the Great Recession by several decades, remains our greatest barrier to shared prosperity. That’s why the recent decision by two of the nation’s largest states to adopt the nation’s highest minimum wage, $15 per hour phased in over time, is such good news. This historic step will give millions of New Yorkers and Californians a raise.
“We continue to do everything possible to strengthen the middle class and give working people the economic stability they deserve. We are investing aggressively in the skills and talents of our people – most recently taking steps to help low-income seniors, migrant farmworkers, the people of Flint, Michigan, and young adults involved in the criminal justice system get the training that will lead to good jobs. During the last month, we have also completed final regulations providing important workplace protections – one to reduce exposure to deadly silica dust in construction and other industries, and another to provide workers with better information as they decide whether to join a union.
“The wind is once again at our back; now we have to make sure it propels everyone forward. Building an economy that works for everyone – helping working people get a bigger slice of a growing pie they helped bake – is the unfinished business we will continue tackling in the remaining months of this administration.”