Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny is using last month's job report to question economic policies supported by incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Owens.
But Owens, a Democrat from Plattsburgh, pushed back against the criticism, challenging his opponent to offer concrete solutions to the nation's economic woes.
The U.S. Department of Labor's jobs report for June showed that U.S. employers added 80,000 jobs. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged from May at 8.2 percent.
Rep. Bill Owens, left, and Matt Doheny
(Enterprise file photos)
Doheny said in a prepared statement that 80,000 new jobs aren't enough "to keep pace with all the people entering the labor market," nor does it help the 15 percent of Americans who remain underemployed.
"It's clear that the policies of President Obama and my opponent are not realizing the growth which leads to jobs," Doheny said.
He added that the North Country's economic outlook is "just as dire," with nine of 11 counties in the current 23rd Congressional District - which will expand to include eastern parts of northern New York and become the 21st District next year - reporting higher unemployment rates in May 2012 than in May 2010.
"Oswego County's rate is unchanged at 10.2 percent," Doheny said. "Clinton County's rate has dropped just 0.1 percentage points, from 9.9 percent unemployment in May 2010 to 9.8 percent unemployment this May. These are hardly numbers to be happy about."
Doheny said as congressman, he'll advocate for lower taxes, less regulation and a smaller federal government. He said that will lead to job growth.
"It's important now that we work together to find commonsense solutions to the economic challenges we face," Owens wrote in a statement emailed to the Enterprise.
"My plan includes what I've been working toward for years: attracting Canadian businesses to New York, reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations on small businesses and family farms, and providing tax credits for those businesses to create new jobs," he added.
Owens said he agrees that the economy needs improvement, but he added that "now is the time to put forth concrete plans instead of political talking points."
The loss of public sector jobs has contributed to stagnant unemployment rates in the North Country. According to New York Department of Labor figures, counties in the 21st District had a 9.6 percent unemployment rate in April, with about 0.6 percent of that represented by public sector job cuts. The region also has about 2,489 unfilled jobs.
Responding to those public sector job cuts, Doheny spokesman Jude Seymour said private companies are holding onto their capital instead of creating jobs because they're worried about higher taxes and too much government regulation.
"That leads to less job opportunities for all - and that includes the public sector employees who have been let go during the worst recovery from a recession since World War II," he said in an email.