Labor Secretary Hilda Solís says today’s lower jobs numbers were a sign of economic recovery, and says attempts to discredit the numbers are “ludicrous.” (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Labor Secretary Solís condemns comments disputing lower unemployment numbers

Labor Secretary Hilda Solís told NBC Latino the drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent – the lowest in almost 4 years – as well as the drop in Latino unemployment to 9.9 percent is a sign the economy is doing better, and said comments saying the numbers were manipulated were insulting and ‘ludicrous.”

“This is the first time in almost 4 years we have seen the numbers go from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, and what we are seeing in this jobs report is that more people are finding employment among all groups, including Latinos and African-Americans, as well as youth,” says Secretary Solís. According to the report, the proportion of the population that now has a job is at 58.7 percent, the highest since May, 2010.

In an election year, the employment numbers have become part of the political campaign, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly mentioning that President Obama‘s policies have not lowered unemployment below 8 percent. These better jobs numbers are seen as a plus for the Obama administration, especially after Obama’s performance in Wednesday’s debate, where Romney’s performance fared better in polls.

This morning, former Generic Electric chairman Jack Welch, a Romney supporter, was criticized for hinting that the jobs numbers were manipulated to make the Obama administration look better. Welch tweeted, “Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers.”  Stuart Varney, of Fox News, said the lower jobs numbers were “too convenient.

The Labor Secretary shot back. “It’s unfortunate and ludicrous; the individuals who work at BLS (the Bureau of Labor Statistics)   have worked in different administrations –  they are economists and statisticians are they don’t change their process to complement one administration or the other,” says Solís.

Most of the employment gains were seen in the areas of health care, transportation and warehousing, and finance.  Asked about the numbers today, Romney said, “This is not what a recovery looks like.”

But  many economists say the lower numbers are indicative of a slow but steady economic recovery.

Secretary Solís says there is still work to be done when it comes to Latino unemployment numbers. “We are not totally out of the woods, we have more to do, and we remain committed to making sure Latinos get the appropriate training to get credentialed into new careers,” says the Labor Secretary, who says the Administration has increased funding for job training.

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