Citing ‘positive trend,’ Obama vows continued focus on jobs
US President Barack Obama vowed on Saturday to work tirelessly to get unemployed Americans back to work now that new statistics have shown a slight improvement on the job creation front.
“My commitment to you, the American people, is that I will focus every single day on how we can get people back to work, and how we can build an economy that continues to make real the promise of America for generations to come,” Obama said in his weekly radio address.
The US labor market witnessed a dramatic improvement in November as the number of jobs lost narrowed to 11,000 and the unemployment rate dipped to 10.0 percent, official data showed Friday.
The Labor Department figures showed the labor market nearing positive territory, suggesting the economy is approaching job growth needed to sustain a fragile recovery.
The report was far better than analyst expectations for a loss of 125,000 jobs and a jobless rate unchanged from October at 10.2 percent.
Obama welcomed the data, saying they “reflected a continuing positive trend” of diminishing job loss. But he insisted much more needed to be done to provide Americans with stable, well-paying employment.
“For those who were laid off last month and the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession, a good trend isn’t good enough,” he said.
“Trends don’t buy the groceries. Trends don’t pay the rent or a college tuition. Trends don’t fulfill the need within each of us to be productive, to provide for our families, to make the most of our lives, to reach for our dreams.”
The president stressed the need for a long-term solution to America’s economic woes, arguing that his efforts were necessary to reform the US health care system, give children the best education in the world, achieve energy independence by investing in a clean energy economy, and to deal with the mounting federal debt.
He also said that in the coming days, he will be unveiling “additional ideas aimed at accelerating job growth and hiring,” but stopped short of offering specifics.
However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday that Obama could endorse the use of remaining funds of a 700-billion-dollar bailout for the financial industry to fund job creation programs.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said this week that untapped Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money could fund infrastructure investments like water projects, rapid transit, high-speed rail, and expanding Internet access and helping small businesses.
Critics of the scheme however have suggested using unspent TARP funds to pay down part of the huge US budget deficit projected by the White House to hit 1.502 trillion dollars in fiscal 2010.
According to a report to Congress in October, 317 billion dollars remains to be spent under the fund, including 70 billion repaid by financial institutions bailed out under the program.
Obama said at Thursday’s jobs summit at the White House that he was not prepared to wait to push job creation measures — but warned that government cash was limited given the size of the deficit so he called on the private sector to help.
Other possible approaches include offering small businesses a tax break to take on new workers for job-intensive energy projects.
Republicans on Friday stepped up their assault on Obama, blaming him for “job killing” policies, including his backing for a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
House minority leader John Boehner said any decrease in the unemployment rate was “encouraging” but he warned of a “jobless recovery” and double-digit unemployment.
The Labor Department’s highly anticipated jobs report Friday showed an unexpectedly sharp improvement in the troubled labor market, key to building a sustainable recovery from the worst recession in decades.
The readings beat average analyst forecasts of 125,000 jobs lost and a jobless rate unchanged, with the job-loss number the lowest since the economy entered recession in December 2007.
This video was published by the White House on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009.