Washington Extra – jobless rate below 9 percent

By Tabassum Zakaria

WASHINGTON, March 4 (Reuters) – Don’t underestimate the
PoliPsych impact of the unemployment rate falling below 9
percent for the first time in nearly two years.

That number is the one which resonates with the public when
candidates talk about jobs on the campaign trail.

The economy is still shaking off the doldrums so the White
House did not want to be seen as publicly reveling in what must
have been a privately gleeful moment after the 8.9 percent
February unemployment rate was revealed.

President Barack Obama said the employment report showed
progress in the economy, “but we need to keep building on that
momentum.”

Republicans were certainly not going to praise economic
data with a Democrat in the White House and a presidential
election next year.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the unemployment
rate “is still too high and we need to continue our efforts to
make sure private sector employers have sure footing to invest
in new employees and expand their businesses.”

Meanwhile, Congress will be looking for creative ways to
cut the deficit.

And we came across a GAO report that finds replacing the
one-dollar note with a one-dollar coin would save the
government about $5.5 billion over 30 years (pocket change when
the deficit is $1.6 trillion).

Perhaps the government could sweep up after a Justin Bieber
haircut — one lock from the performer went for more than
$40,000 on eBay (for charity).

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Here are our top stories from Washington today:

Senate to debate rival spending bills next week

Senate Democrats pushed for a vote next week on their new
proposal to trim $6 billion from spending while protecting
President Obama’s healthcare overhaul and other priorities.
[ID:nN04184918]

Finally, jobs data showing some consistency

Mystery solved? For the first time in months, the Labor
Department’s job market assessment matches up with private
surveys showing a pick-up in employment that is finally fast
enough to put a substantial dent in the unemployment rate.
[ID:nN04292473]

U.S. employment rebounds from winter gloom

Employers hired workers at the fastest pace in nine months
in February and the jobless rate slipped to a nearly two-year
low of 8.9 percent, showing the economy is finally kicking into
a higher gear. [ID:nOAT004757]

Jobs outlook in public sector grows dimmer

The jobs outlook is growing dimmer and dimmer for the U.S.
public sector. Federal employment data shows state and local
governments shedding thousands of jobs even as Republican
political leaders say more layoffs are on the way.
[ID:nN04227945]

Gates warns Air Force to prepare for range of threats

The U.S. military will face a complex array of security
threats long after the Afghan conflict ends, and the Air Force
cannot fall back into the habit of planning mainly for the wars
of the 20th century, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned.
[ID:nN04196592]

To see what we are blogging on Front Row Washington, go to
http://blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/
(Editing by Todd Eastham)