WASHINGTON,DCHouse Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today released the following statement after the Labor Department announced the unemployment rate held steady in February at 9.7%, surpassing expectations:

“I am encouraged by today’s Labor Department report detailing our job market’s steady performance in February-especially in the face of historic winter storms on the east coast. Our economy is picking up momentum: GDP grew at an astounding 5.7% in the fourth quarter of 2009 and job losses have ebbed considerably in last few months.

“The efforts of Congress and President Obama are paying off. Thanks to the Recovery Act and other initiatives, we successfully prevented a second Great Depression. A report by the GAO indicates that the Recovery Act continues to curb job losses and is now shifting from the rescue to the rebuilding phase. This means that employment opportunities stemming from the Recovery Act will increase in the months to come.

“Still, countless hardworking Americans cannot find work. This is why my colleagues and I passed the HIRE act this week which invests in job-creating projects like the construction of roads, bridges and tunnels. We will continue to make creating jobs and strengthening the economy our top priority as we consider further jobs legislation in the weeks to come.”