WASHINGTON (AP) – The last major economic report card for President Barack Obama arrives today with the release of the December jobs figures. The report will cap a long record of robust hiring after the Great Recession, though one that had many people feeling left out.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs from employers who were panicking in the face of plummeting demand and a financial crisis that froze credit. When the bleeding finally stopped in February 2010, 8.7 million jobs had vanished.
The unemployment rate peaked at a quarter-century high of 10 percent in October 2009. Just over seven years later, it has reached a nine-year low of 4.6 percent.
Hiring was slow at first but soon accelerated and has been consistently solid through most of the recovery. The U.S. has gained 15.4 million jobs over 74 consecutive months – the longest streak of job gains on record.
December is sure to extend the streak, though likely at a more modest pace than prevailed a couple of years ago: Economists have forecast that employers added 173,000 jobs in December, according to data provider FactSet. The unemployment rate is thought to have risen slightly to 4.7 percent.
Weak spots remain in the job market: A smaller share of Americans either have a job or are looking for one than before the recession. That is particularly true for men. Many men, especially those without a college education, have suffered as the job market has shifted away from blue collar work such as manufacturing and mining toward industries that either require higher skills or that pay less.