February was another month in the wilderness for Republicans, and another great month for the economic recovery. February's strong jobs numbers - 233,000 jobs created in the private sector and 227,000 net - continue the strong jobs recovery as a result of President Obama's policies. And finally, after 24 full months of continuous private sector job creation - with 4 million jobs created in that time - economists say that the pace of the job creation represents the economy starting to roar, coming out of the ditch Republicans put us in. It's reaching, they say, escape velocity.
[E]conomists greeted the report with almost unequivocal optimism. “There is no real cloud in the silver lining of this morning’s jobs report,” wrote Steven Blitz, chief economist of ITG investment research.Indeed. Not only has the economy created more than 200,000 jobs three months in a row now, the January numbers were revised up to 284,000 jobs created. December numbers were also revised up. The unemployment rate in February remained unchanged to 8.3% because more people who had given up on looking for jobs have come back to the improving job market.
Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at J. H. Cohn, an accounting and consulting firm, said the recent run of gains was approaching “escape velocity,” adding, “The jobs recovery will finally have achieved the momentum that is necessary.”
Well, we know what the economy is escaping from: the Republican commitment to make America fail. And we are approaching escape velocity because of the captain of this ship: President Barack Obama. How do I know that this is not just a coincidence? Look at the sectors of the economy that added the most jobs.
The president invested in students by expanding Pell grants and student loans, and people could go to school to get skills. The president did everything in his power get consumers back to buying - through his American opportunity tax credit, the payroll tax cut and prior to that the Making Work Pay tax credit, and by guiding the economy through the worst times since the Great Depression. Consumers are buying again, and businesses are hiring again for various professional services is growing. The economy added 82,000 jobs in business and professional services last month, and 1.4 million since September 2009.
Consumer confidence is helping people do other things, too: like eat out more, go on vacations more, etc. The food services and hospitality industries added 44,000 jobs in February. Since its low point in February 2010, food services has added over a half a million jobs.
The president's health care reform invested in training health care professionals and providing health care facilities and providers with the incentive to focus on patients instead of just profits. Health care reform created incentives for utilizing primary care. Last month, health care and social assistance jobs grew by 61,000. Over the last year, health care employment has grown by 361,000.
And last, but perhaps most significantly, manufacturing. In an economy where manufacturing is growing for the first time since 1997, American manufacturers added 31,000 jobs in February, bringing the total manufacturing jobs growth over the last two years to 444,000.
In the mean time, the people who would love for the economy to turn back are doing everything they can to tear it down. Mitt Romney is flip flopping on - and is now against - raising the minimum wage. You know, because Heaven forbid the working poor have more money that they can spend in the economy, thus accelerating growth even more. John Boehner is busy lying about "tax increases" and trying to spin the jobs recovery into not-good-enough-ism. Yet more Republicans are beating the one-trick-pony of drill, baby, drill, while domestic production is up, foreign oil dependence is down, and energy independence is within greater reach thanks to President Obama.
To be sure, had the Republicans in Congress helped rather than obstructed this President, the economy would be doing much better than it even is now. Had the GOP not suddenly discovered its disdain for the financial rescue package, the American auto industry, economic stimulus and individual responsibility in health care - all initiatives once with broad support among Republican policy makers - America could have been doing better together. In their zeal to make Obama's a failed presidency, however, the Republicans instead concentrated on making America fail.
But despite the GOP's efforts at every step to impede the economic recovery - after their policies caused the worst economic crisis in American history with the exception of the Great Depression - the economy is breaking through thanks to President Obama's leadership and the willingness of a lot of good Democrats to do what needed to be done in the first two years of the Obama administration, despite the short term political consequences (see November 2010). Despite every effort of the Republican party to throw monkey wrenches into the engine of our economy, they are failing, and the American people - with one courageous president at the helm - are escaping their economic death grip.
This is what change looks like. Escape velocity, here we come.