President Obama took a victory lap on Friday after new jobs numbers showed the unemployment rate falling below 5 percent for the first time in eight years.
The jobless rate ticked down from 5 to 4.9 percent in January, the lowest level since February 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the economy added only 151,000 jobs, below the fast pace at the end of 2015 and short of economists’ expectations.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent — by October, it peaked at 10 percent. Since then, the administration has touted 71 straight months of private-sector job growth, the longest streak on record.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, said last month the president should not claim credit for a recovering economy.
“Wages are stagnant ... 46 million people are still living in poverty today, among the highest poverty rates in a generation,” he said. “These are not the signs of a recovery, these are not the signs of a strong economy. These are signs of a weak economy.”