Top Obama aide: Jobless rate may grow in coming months
President Barack Obama’s top economic aide Christina Romer said Sunday the US jobless rate could rise further and that the improving US economy is not yet out of recession.
Asked if the 10 percent unemployment rate could go higher, Romer, who heads up the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told NBC: “It could well.”
“These things certainly do bounce around. I would anticipate some bumps in the road as we go ahead,” she told the network’s “Meet the Press” program, noting that jobs were a key element of the economic recovery.
“The president has always said, and what I firmly believe, is you’re not recovered until all of those people that want to work are back to work,” said Romer.
“For the people on Main Street and throughout this country, they are still suffering, the unemployment rate is still 10 percent.
“I’m not going to say the recession is over until the unemployment rate is down to normal levels… where we were before the recession — certainly in the five percent” range, Romer said.
Her comments came with the US Congress poised later this week to take up a new jobs bill to confront the soaring US unemployment rate.
Obama and his Democratic allies, facing deep US public worry over unemployment running at a quarter-century high, have redoubled their efforts to tackle the problem ahead of the November 2010 mid-term elections.
Earlier this month, official figures showed the unemployment rate fell in November to 10.0 percent from 10.2 percent, suggesting that problems in the job market had peaked.
Speaking to CNN television Sunday, Lawrence Summers, director of the White House Economic Council, said jobs creation and the recovery were inextricably linked.
“Look at the economic debate today. People are talking about how much job creation there will be, and talking about the pace of the recovery from recession,” said Summers, adding that measures undertaken by the administration so far have helped, although much more remains to be done.
“We have a long way to go,” Summer said.
“We are starting to see the basic mechanism of recovery — people spend and that creates income for other people, and they spend, and that creates more income, and that creates more income and they spend.
“That process of recovery is starting to engage,” he told CNN.