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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 4, 1998
                           THE ECONOMY UNDER
            Unemployment Down, More than 17 Million New Jobs,
              and Wages Growing Twice the Rate of Inflation
                           December 4, 1998

Today We Received New Evidence That America's Economy Remains Solid and Strong: Unemployment Dropped to 4.4 Percent; More Than A Quarter of A Million New Jobs Were Created in November Alone; And Wages Continued to Grow at Twice the Rate of Inflation. In 1992, the American economy was barely creating jobs, wages were stagnant, and the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. Five years ago, President Clinton put in place a bold new three-part economic strategy of cutting the deficit to help reduce interest rates and spur business investment; investing in education, health care, science and technology so that America was prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century; and opening markets abroad so that American workers would have a fair chance to compete and win across the globe.

More than 17 Million New Jobs Under President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Last month alone, 267,000 more jobs were added to the American economy. Since President Clinton took office, the economy has added 17.3 million new jobs -- that's 1.3 million more new jobs in 70 months than were created during the entire 96 months of the Reagan Administration (17.3 million under Clinton vs. 16.0 million under Reagan).

Unemployment Down To 4.4 Percent in November -- Below 5 Percent For 17 Months In A Row. In 1992, the unemployment rate was 7.5 percent. In November, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent. For the first time in 28 years, the unemployment rate has been below 5 percent for 17 months in a row.

Highest Share of New Jobs in Private Sector in 75 Years. Since President Clinton and Vice President Gore took office, the private sector of the economy has added 16.0 million new jobs -- with over 2.5 million jobs added in the past year. Under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, 93 percent of the 17.3 million new jobs have been in the private sector -- that's the highest percentage since Warren G. Harding was President in the early 1920s.

Fastest Real Wage Growth in More Than Two Decades. Last month, average hourly earnings increased 0.2 percent. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen 3.7 percent -- that's more than twice the rate of inflation. After adjusting for inflation, wages have increased at about a 2.5 percent pace in the past 12 months -- that's the fastest real wage growth in more than two decades.

Construction Jobs Are Coming Back. Under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, construction and manufacturing jobs are coming back. After losing 662,000 jobs in construction during the previous four years, more than 1.5 million new construction jobs have been added since January 1993 -- that's a faster annual rate than any other Administration since Harry S. Truman was President.

Manufacturing Jobs Are Up Under President Clinton, But Are Being Hurt by the Financial Crisis in Asia. After losing 2.1 million manufacturing jobs between 1981 and 1992, the economy has created 486,000 new manufacturing jobs since January 1993. In the auto industry, after losing 46,000 jobs during the Bush years, 161,000 new auto jobs have been created during the Clinton-Gore Administration. For the first time since the 1970s, America has led the world in auto production for four years in a row.

Record-Low Unemployment for African Americans and Hispanics. Under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, the African-American unemployment rate has fallen from 14.1 percent to 8.7 percent -- one of its lowest levels on record (data first collected in 1972). The Hispanic unemployment rate has dropped from 11.3 percent to 7.0 percent -- also one of its lowest levels ever. But we still have more work to do, since these unemployment rates are well above the national average.

Inflation -- Lowest Since 1961. In the third quarter, the GDP price index rose 0.8 percent at an annual rate. Over the past year, inflation rose just 0.9 percent -- the smallest increase in 37 years.