Republicans Skew Sen. Reid's Comments On Jobs

March 05, 2010 1:43 pm ET

During a Senate floor speech on March 5, 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reacted positively to the day's news that fewer Americans than expected had lost their jobs in February.  Taking Reid's comments out of context, Republicans are falsely claiming Reid believes it is a "good thing" that 36,000 Americans lost their jobs.

Republicans Take Sen. Reid's Jobs Comments Out Of Context

POLITICO:

Republicans are hitting Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for asserting that it's a "good thing" only 36,000 people lost their jobs in February.

"Today us [sic] a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good," Reid said on the Senate floor Friday morning.

Reid's comments were in reference to Friday's jobs report that the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February. The 36,000 total cited by the Majority Leader was 14,000 fewer jobs lost than analysts had predicted.

The GOP conference sent out a blast e-mail with the quote to their media list Monday morning with the subject line, "Senator Reid's 'Big Day,' Unless You're One of Those 36,000." Video of the moment can be seen here. [POLITICO, 3/5/10]

Sen. Reid's Speech Stressed Importance Of Helping The Unemployed

Sen. Harry Reid:

[The bill includes] unemployment compensation. Today is a big day in America, only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.  Unemployment rate around America has not changed. Prognosticators thought it would go up. It has not. So we need to extend -- there are about 15 million people in America out of work. These extended unemployment benefits will help millions of those people. We were fortunate enough for earlier this week to get the 30-day extension, which saved 'em so that when we finish this legislation we should finish it, hopefully on Tuesday, we can go to conference with the House and quickly work out our differences.

Reid Was Addressing Today's Unemployment Numbers, Which Were Much Better Than Expected

36,000 Americans Lost Their Jobs In February, Fewer Than The 50,000 Analysts Expected. According to the Associated Press, "The unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent in February as employers shed fewer jobs than expected, evidence that the job market may be slowly healing. The Labor Department said employers cut 36,000 jobs, below analysts' expectations of 50,000. Analysts expected the jobless rate to rise to 9.8 percent." [Associated Press, 3/5/10]

New York Times: "Most Economists Construed The Report As A Sign Of Improvement." As reported by the New York Times:

The government's monthly snapshot of the job market found that another 36,000 jobs disappeared in February - hardly cause for a celebration.

Yet compared to the monthly losses of more than 650,000 jobs a year ago, and against a backdrop of recent news that increased the possibility of a slide back into recession, most economists construed the report as a sign of improvement.

"It's strikingly good," said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who has been notably skeptical of signs of recovery in recent months. "It's much better than it had been looking." [New York Times, 3/5/10]

The Numbers Show America Is On The Road To Recovery.  Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing job losses per month:

[Office of the Speaker, accessed 2/17/10]

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