(CNSNews.com) – The 8.5 percent unemployment rate announced on Friday is in line with the rate the Obama administration forecast if the $825-billion stimulus package did not pass – it was signed into law in February 2009 and, besides funding myriad government projects and more public employees, was supposed to keep unemployment below 8 percent.
Without the stimulus, unemployment was projected to rise to 8.8 percent by the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a report by Christina Romer, then the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Jared Bernstein, then the chief economist for Vice President Joe Biden.
“In the absence of stimulus, the economy could lose another 3 to 4 million more [jobs],” said the January 2009 report by the Obama administration. “Thus, we are working to counter a potential total job loss of at least 5 million. As Figure 1 shows, even with the large prototypical package, the unemployment rate in 2010Q4 is predicted to be approximately 7.0%, which is well below the approximately 8.8% that would result in the absence of a plan.”
The 8.5 percent is the lowest rate since February 2009, when President Barack Obama took office in January with a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. However, the unemployment rate has steadily risen since the president was in office.
“Obviously, we have a lot more work to do,” Obama said on Friday. “But it is important for the American people to recognize we’ve now added 3.2 million new private sector jobs over the last 22 months, nearly 2 million new jobs last year alone. So after shedding jobs for more than a decade, the manufacturing sector is also adding jobs two years in a row now. So we’re making progress. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Since Obama took office, 1.7 million jobs were lost. The unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent for 35 months, and the average duration of unemployment has increased from 19.9 weeks to 40.8 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.