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New Jobs And Energy Gains Helping Lift US Economy

The energy sector plays a major role in global economic growth and recovery.

Recent discoveries have put the United States on track to become the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas in a few years. At the same time, oil imports have fallen to a 17-year low.

The energy breakthroughs have come despite Obama's heavy emphasis on promoting renewable clean-energy sources, such as wind and solar power, for the future.

In the months and years ahead, domestic energy production "is going to be a real driver of economic growth," said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief economic adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.

These energy gains, while not that big yet, will be reflected in more jobs at drilling and other energy work sites, reduced manufacturing costs and improvements in the nation's balance of trade, said Holtz-Eakin, now head of the American Action Forum, a conservative public policy institute.

"There's a lot of things in this jobs report one could like. But it's also something that leaves you with a long way to go."

It's hard to appreciate when you're in the grips of one, but recessions always come to an end. Recoveries always eventually follow, obeying the physics of business cycles.

But this recovery has been agonizingly shallow, given that the recession officially ended way back in mid-2009. Even at 7.5 percent, the jobless rate hovers well above pre-recession levels.

Even at the improved pace of job creation over the past six months, it will still take until early 2018, five more years, to get back to the more normal unemployment rate of 5 percent or less that prevailed before the recession began in late 2007, said economist Heidi Shierholz of the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute.

"This is one of those reports that is totally context driven. In good times, the 165,000 new jobs would be fine, but nothing to write home about," she said.

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