Labor Chief Says U.S. Headed in ‘Right Direction’ on Jobs

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said a government report showing employers added 103,000 jobs in September “is a good indication that we’re going in the right direction.”

“We need to do more,” Solis said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The package of tax cuts and spending that President Barack Obama proposed last month “will create, hopefully, at least another 1 million jobs,” she said.

The labor secretary’s message was reinforced by Katharine Abraham, acting chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, who said the data underscore Obama’s call for Congress to act on his proposal.

“Clearly, we need faster economic growth to put Americans back to work,” Abraham said in a statement.

The Labor Department said in a monthly report that employers added 103,000 jobs, after a revised 57,000 increase in August. Analysts expected the report to show an increase of about 60,000 in September, according to a Bloomberg survey.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent.

The figures were released as Obama prepared to meet with U.S. Senate Democratic leaders on a strategy for getting a vote as early as next week on a $447 billion jobs plan to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

‘Jolt’ for Economy

“Our economy really needs a jolt right now,” the president said at a White House press conference yesterday.

“Soup-to-nuts, this is a solid report,” said Eric Green, chief market economist at TD Securities Inc. in New York, in a telephone interview. Employers added jobs, household employment rose for the second straight month and temporary hiring increased and the number of hours worked increased.

“This is not consistent at all with recession,” Green said.

John D. Herrmann, senior fixed-income strategist at State Street Global Markets LLC in Boston, said in an interview after the report that the unemployment rate “will grind lower from here toward about 8.9 percent” by the end of the year

He said the U.S. economy will grow, on average, about 2 percent the second half of the year. Over the next four months, he said, any recession risk “is mostly due to some kind of uncertainty in Europe, not domestically here in the U.S.”

The economy must add at least 130,000 jobs each month to keep up with growth in the adult population, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The economy must add 13.4 million jobs over the next three years, or 373,000 each month, to bring unemployment down to 6 percent, he said in an e-mailed statement.

The government’s long-range forecast shows the unemployment rate will average 9.1 percent this year and 9 percent in 2012, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

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