Although the U.S. private sector added only around 54,000 jobs in May, Austan Goolsbee, chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, still says the recovery is headed in the right direction.
"Don't bank too much of any one month's jobs report," Goolsbee told Christian Amanpour on her Sunday program The Week. "You want to look at a little bit of a trend to get a more accurate barometer."
Government stimulus might have been essential to preventing the country from sinking into another Great Depression, Goolsbee says, but it's the private sector that must pull the country up. "Our effort now as a government should be to get the private sector, to help them stand up, lead the recovery," he said. "Government is not the central driver of recovery."
To accomplish self-sustaining, private sector growth, Goolsbee explained how recently initiated payroll and business tax breaks will encourage individuals to spend and private industry to hire. "We've got to rely on government policies that are trying to leverage the private sector, and give incentives to the private sector, to be doing the growth."
Despite last month's dismal jobs growth, Goolsbee says to look at larger trends, where optimism appears more warranted. "We were losing 780,000 jobs a month when the President comes into office. Fast forward to now, we've added 1 million jobs over the last six months."
This year's total job numbers appear to support Goolsbee's argument. The employment trends for 2011 through the month of May are actually better than that of last year's at the same time period, says blog Calculated Risk. By this time last year, only 358,000 jobs had been added to the private sector; this year, 908,000 jobs have been added by the private sector.
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