Recovery? What Recovery?

July data showed the unemployment rate dropped from 9.5% to 9.4%. Obama said this was a sign our economy was recovering from the recession and that the worst may be behind us. He offered a caveat, though, and that was he expected the unemployment rate to continue to rise to 10%. Obama has made promise after promise that he has ultimately broken or ignored. Yet, he’s working to keep this one?

The U.S. jobless rate in August jumped to 9.7 percent, the highest since 1983, and employers cut another 216,000 jobs, reinforcing concern that consumer spending will slow even as the economy stabilizes.

The increase in the unemployment rate from 9.4 percent exceeded forecasts. The smaller-than-anticipated drop in payrolls was the least in a year, and followed a decrease of 276,000 in July that was larger than previously reported, Labor Department data showed today in Washington.

Rising joblessness underscores Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s judgment that it’s “too early” to start exiting from the unprecedented stimulus measures helping stabilize the economy. AMR Corp. and Whirlpool Corp. are among the companies continuing to cut staff to lower costs and revive profits in the aftermath of the deepest recession since the 1930s.

“The labor market’s healing process is agonizingly slow,” Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York, said before the report. “We expect the improvement to remain a very slow one, and therefore for the household sector to be contending with a weak labor market for some time.”

This is the highest rate in 26 years and underscores how laughable Joe Biden’s cheerleading session was yesterday. Biden said the stimulus package was even more successful than they anticipated. There were a few issues with his enthusiastic and positive evaluation:

Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed success beyond expectations for the $787 billion economic stimulus, but his glowing assessment overlooks many of the program’s problems, including delays in releasing money, questionable spending priorities and project picks that are under investigation.

In a speech aimed squarely at Republican criticism and public skepticism over the costly program’s effectiveness, Biden said accomplishments over the past 100 days provide proof of promises kept when he and President Barack Obama began rolling out the plan earlier this year.

“The Recovery Act is doing more, faster and more efficiently and more effectively than most people expected,” he said.

Really? When President Obama was selling his stimulus plan back in January and February, he insisted that it was absolutely necessary to keep the unemployment rate below 8%. If we didn’t get it, he warned, then the unemployment rate would balloon to *gasp* 9%.

Today, it stands at 9.7%. Way to go, Team Obama.

Update: Ed Morrissey tells us that June and July’s numbers were revised upward so the unemployment rate Obama used to argue that a recovery was afoot were even worse than originally thought.

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