The Department of Labor announced Friday morning that unemployment fell to 8.6 percent in the month of November. The report is a major milestone for the Obama administration, which has faced tough re-election prospects as unemployment has lingered at 9 percent and above in recent months. The substantial drop in the rate comes even while public sector jobs have been cut at all levels, and a separate survey reports that companies added 120,000 jobs in November. "Despite some strong headwinds this year, the American economy has now created jobs the last 21 months in a row," the president said in a Friday speech to promote Better Buildings Initiative, an energy efficiency program.
Unemployment has been a major talking point for Republicans as they seek to defeat Obama in 2012. Former Gov. Mitt Romney was the first GOP presidential candidate to react to the latest report, telling Fox News,
It's very good news obviously, going into the holiday season. People are shopping again. So very good news that the unemployment rate is down, more people back to work. But look overall at the president's record on the economy. It’s been miserable.
In his Friday speech, Obama conceded that more work needed to be done to keep the economy growing. He turned attention to Congress, where Democratic legislation to extend the payroll tax cut died in the Senate Thursday, "We can't wait for Congress to act. If they won't act, I will," he said, promoting the initiative that will direct federal agencies to make their buildings more energy efficient.
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