Obama says despite declared end of recession, downturn still very real for millions of people

President Barack Obama said Monday that even though the recession has been officially declared over, for the millions of people who are out of work or otherwise struggling "it's still very real for us."

Focusing on the poor economic conditions that existed when he took office, Obama said, "The hole was so deep that a lot of people out there are still hurting." He addressed a town-hall-style meeting telecast live on CNBC.

He spoke shortly after a group that dates the beginnings and ends of recessions said that the economic downturn that began in December 2007 ended in June 2009. At 18 months, that makes it the longest since World War II, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

"Something that took ten years to create is going to take a little more time to solve," Obama said.

Obama participated in the hour-long session before heading to Pennsylvania on Monday to raise money for Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak, who is locked in a tight race for a seat considered a must-win for the president's party.

The group assembled for the session included large and small business owners, teachers, students and unemployed people.

A woman who said she was the chief financial officer for a veterans' service organization told Obama, "I'm exhausted of defending you" and recounted that the times have been hard on her and her family. "I'm disappointed where we are right now," she said, asking, "Is this my new reality?"

Obama told her, "My goal is not to convince you that everything is where it ought to be. It's not." Still, Obama said that things were "moving in the right direction" under policies he has put in place.

A 30-year old law school graduate who said he couldn't find a job and couldn't even make interest payments on his student loans told Obama he was inspired by Obama's 2008 campaign but "that inspiration is dying away."

"The most important thing we can do right now is grow our economy," Obama said.

He talked about a series of his recent proposals to accelerate business investment.

"What we can't do is go back to the same old things we were doing," he said.

Source: AP News

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