Hope on jobs: Clouds remain, but employment improves

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The Labor Department’s report Friday was good news for President Barack Obama and all Americans — not only had the economy created 203,000 jobs in November but the unemployment rate had dropped to 7 percent, a five-year low.

Mr. Obama needs a boost after the miserable roll-out of his centerpiece Affordable Care Act.

But there were also dark strains in the generally rosy economic picture. Thanksgiving-Black Friday sales did not go as well as sellers had hoped. Job creation was good for November and recent months, but in general the job market is still not bright for new entries and especially glum for the long-term unemployed, who number 4 million. The cloud placed over the economy by these facts of life encourages potential spenders to be cautious, rather than spend freely.

Last Wednesday in his speech on economic mobility President Obama put job creation in a larger context, that of workers’ desire to improve their lot with greater opportunity and higher income. But the growing problem of income inequality, which serves the rich and hurts the poor, serves to destroy the hopes of average Americans for upward mobility.

A stronger economy with better-paying jobs would be the first step toward restoring those dreams.


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