Bush acknowledges for first time that US economy is 'in a recession'
Agence France-Presse
Published: Friday December 5, 2008

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WASHINGTON US President George W. Bush on Friday acknowledged for the first time that the US economy is in a recession after the release of official data showing the worst monthly job losses since 1974.

"Today's job data reflects the fact that our economy is in a recession," Bush said. "My administration is committed to ensuring that our economy succeeds, and I know the incoming administration shares the same commitment."

The US president's hastily announced remarks on the South Lawn of the White House came after official data showing US employers slashed 533,000 jobs in November, sending the unemployment rate to a 15-year high of 6.7 percent and suggesting the economy is sinking faster than believed.

"I'm concerned about our workers who've lost jobs during this downturn," he said. "We are focusing on the root causes of the economic downturn in order to return our economy to health."

Bush, who hands the reins to Barack Obama on January 20, noted his administration had extended unemployment benefits and has been pursuing efforts to ease housing market turmoil and ease a painful credit squeeze.

"And credit is beginning to move. A market that was frozen is thawing. There's still more work to do. But there are some encouraging signs," the US president said.

"It's going to take time for all the actions we've taken to have their full impact. But I am confident that the steps we're taking will help fix the problems in our economy and return it to strength," said Bush.

The Labor Department's November report on non-farm payrolls, seen as one of the best indicators of economic momentum, highlighted the severe retrenchment by companies in the face of a struggling economy and tight credit.

The jobless rate, based on a separate survey of households, rose to 6.7 percent, the highest since October 1993 but slightly better than the consensus estimate of economists of 6.8 percent. That survey showed 2.7 million people have joined the jobless ranks since the recession began.

The number of job losses was the sharpest in 34 years and much higher than the 325,000 expected by private forecasters.