The Labor Department said yesterday that 1,000 new jobs were created last month, well below the 130,000 to 150,000 many economists had expected from the holiday shopping season. The December level was down from the 43,000 new hires in November, a figure revised lower from the original 57,000.
The disappointing employment report supplied Democratic presidential hopefuls with ammunition in their bid to unseat President [George W. Bush]. Though Bush's approval ratings have swelled recently on bullish economic data and corporate earnings reports, languishing employment levels continue to blight his record on the economy.
To end his first term with a net growth in jobs, Bush needs the economy to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs each month to net the 160,000 or so needed to employ new entrants in the work force, according to economists. Since Bush's tax cuts were implemented in June, the economy has created 221,000 jobs, compared with the 1.8 million the administration estimated its tax cuts would create by the end of 2003, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a prolabor Washington think tank.