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More than the usual amount of economic statistics were released this morning. As a whole, today’s economic news shows that while we are still fighting back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we are making progress. We lost more than 8 million jobs and GDP contracted by almost 5 percent as a result of the Great Recession. We have more work to do, but incorporating today’s preliminary benchmark revision to the employment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics with their earlier data indicates that the economy has added nearly 5.1 million private sector jobs, on net, over the past 30 months. BLS announced that total employment likely grew by 386,000 more jobs than previously announced during the 12 months from March 2011 to March 2012, and by 453,000 more private sector jobs in that same time period. In the past decade, the absolute difference between the preliminary and final benchmark revision has averaged 37,000 jobs.
We also saw revised data released today showing that real GDP grew in the second quarter of 2012 by 1.3 percent at an annual rate. Real GDP growth in the second quarter was revised down due, in part, to a downward revision to agriculture inventories as a result of the devastating drought our nation faced this summer. The Obama Administration continues to take all available steps to mitigate the impacts of the drought, and has called on Congress to pass a farm bill that would spur growth and provide rural Americans with the certainty they deserve. We also learned today that the advance report of durable goods orders declined in August, largely as a result of a decline in orders for transportation equipment. Excluding the volatile transportation category, durable goods orders fell by 1.6 percent.
Today’s news shows that we must do more to strengthen our economy and promote job creation. Over a year ago, President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act – a plan that independent economists have said would create up to 2 million jobs. The President will continue to push policies that will continue this progress we have made, including incentives to strengthen the American manufacturing industry, investments in our nation’s infrastructure, and the extension of the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses.
While we are still rebuilding our economy and working to recover from the worst crisis since the Great Depression, we are making progress and the last thing we should do is return to the economic policies that failed us in the past. The revisions announced in today’s reports are a reminder that economic data are subject to large revisions. As a whole the pattern of revisions suggest that the recession that began at the end of 2007 was deeper than initially reported, and the jobs recovery over the last 2.5 years has been a bit stronger than initially reported, although much work remains to be done to return to full employment.