WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about the December 2015 Employment Situation report released today:
“2015 ended with still more robust job creation: 292,000 jobs, making December the second best month of the year and bringing total 2015 job growth to 2.7 million. The longest streak of private-sector job growth on record continues, now at 70 straight months with 14.1 million new jobs over that time. The unemployment rate was unchanged from November, remaining at 5.0 percent.
“We’ve made tremendous progress. Seven years ago, the U.S. economy was in free fall, hemorrhaging 2.3 million private-sector jobs in just the three months before President Obama took office. Millions of families lost their homes and retirement savings. Major financial institutions and the auto industry were on the brink of collapse.
“But today the worst economic crisis in generations is behind us. Despite unprecedented obstruction from Republicans in Congress, the nation is enjoying an historic recovery, due in large measure to the president’s steady hand and the resilience of our workers and businesses. Consider these remarkable facts:
- Average monthly job growth in both 2014 and 2015 exceeded 200,000 – the first time we’ve had back-to-back years that strong since 1998-1999.
- Long-term unemployment has dropped dramatically, with a 2015 decline of 687,000. In April 2010, 45.5 percent of the unemployed had been out of work 27 weeks or more; today, that number is just 26.3 percent.
- The retail automotive industry is going gangbusters, having sold a record 17.5 million cars and trucks in 2015. That makes six years in a row of growth in auto sales, something that hasn’t happened since World War II.
- In the first half of 2009, more than 600,000 laid-off workers were applying for unemployment insurance benefits each week. Today, UI claims have been at 300,000 or less for 43 consecutive weeks for the first time since December 1973.
- When it comes to the unemployment rate, we’re ahead of schedule and outperforming expectations. As recently as early 2014, forecasters thought unemployment would remain above 5 percent for several years, at least until 2020. As it turned out, it was barely for another year and a half. The unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent in October 2015 and has stayed there for the last three months.
“We know there is unfinished business. Wages are rising only modestly and too many families are struggling to get by no matter how hard they work. We will spend the remaining year of this administration doing everything possible to sustain this recovery and create shared prosperity. Through investments in training, apprenticeships and infrastructure; by fighting for a higher minimum wage, paid-leave policies and expanded overtime – we will build an even stronger economic foundation for future generations.”