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Unemployment rate drops 0.1 percent, showing 'positive momentum' in job market

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Good news, but how good?

During the past four months, the economy has averaged 158,000 new jobs a month, notes economist Sung Won Sohn, a professor at California State University, Channel Islands. Some of this is related to an improvement in the auto sector, he notes. “Demand is rising for small business supplying to the auto sector,” he says. “They have been hiring more people.”

The White House hailed the better jobs picture. In a statement, Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the last two months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.

“We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this Administration – such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment – are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation.”

However, Republicans were less enthusiastic. In a statement, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, noted the nation had 7.2 million jobs less than before the recession began. “That’s not acceptable by any standard,” he said.

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