WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about the September 2013 Employment Situation report released today:
"The economy added 148,000 total nonfarm jobs in September. With the addition of 126,000 private-sector jobs, that makes a total of over 7.6 million new private-sector jobs over the last 43 consecutive months of growth. The monthly unemployment rate inched downward to 7.2 percent and has been below 8 percent for a full year, following more than three and a half years above 8 percent. Average hourly earnings rose by 3 cents in September, with a 49-cent increase over the last year.
"The economy continues on the road to recovery, but at a more modest pace than the American people need or expect. President Obama continues to push for an agenda that will kick the recovery into a higher gear. He is asking Congress to pass a budget that invests in important priorities like education, infrastructure and technology, while continuing to reduce the deficit over the long term. And he is stepping up the call to fix our broken immigration system in a way that increases economic growth. These job-creating initiatives should have been the nation's focus over the last month; instead we were sidetracked by a divisive struggle that inflicted unnecessary wounds on the economy.
"This report comes behind schedule, as the federal government was shut down on the first Friday of this month. It does not reflect the adverse impact of the shutdown on the national economy, something we won't be able to fully measure until more data are released in the coming months.
"But we do know that economic uncertainty was already holding back growth even before this latest standoff. The shutdown and the threat to default on our nation's debt unquestionably set back our recovery. Employers put hiring and investment on hold. Families delayed or cut back on spending. Banks raised the cost of borrowing for homeowners and small businesses. The financial markets reacted negatively, and we lost respect in the eyes of the world. This avoidable confrontation was exactly what an economy on the mend did not need.
"The economy can't live up to its potential if it's hijacked every few months. Businesses manufacture jobs, while Congress manufactures crises. Let's move on to the task that Americans demand of us — working together to create jobs, grow the economy and strengthen the middle class."