(Updates with Krueger statement starting in fifth paragraph.)
Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said the drop in the unemployment rate shows the U.S. economy is recovering, and extending a cut in the payroll tax will help boost hiring and spending even more.
The jobless rate remains high and “the urgency is to do something now,” Solis said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
The Labor Department today said the jobless rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest since March 2009, after employers last month added 120,000 jobs.
The government also revised to 100,000 the number of jobs companies added to their payrolls in October, up from the initial estimate of 80,000.
Separately, Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said the global economy remains “in a fragile state” and urged lawmakers to move ahead with an extension of the payroll tax cut that President Barack Obama is seeking. The reduction in the Social Security payroll tax for employees expires Dec. 31.
“Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough given the large job losses from the recession that began in December 2007,” Krueger said in a statement.
“It would be a setback for the economy” if Congress didn’t pass a payroll tax cut extension, he said.
A brighter picture for U.S. jobs is helping ease concerns that the world’s largest economy will slip into a recession, even as Europe’s debt crisis threatens to hamper the recovery.
Solis, in the Bloomberg Television interview, said growth indicators are “steady, they’re slow, but nevertheless they are occurring and we need to continue down that path.”
She said the jobless rate in November 2010 was 9.8 percent and “it’s still above 8 percent, yes it’s high and that’s why we need to do more” with the payroll tax cut and extending expanded unemployment insurance benefits.
House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said yesterday that “there is enough common ground” between Republicans and Democrats in Congress to pass the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit measures.
Boehner told reporters today that “any job creation is welcome news.” He added that “the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptably high” and many Americans have “stopped looking for work. I think we should all be concerned about that.”
--With assistance from Peter Cook and Seth Stern in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Jodi Schneider
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