Obama: Recovery not complete until jobs restored
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday warned the country's recovery would not be complete until more citizens find work and the United States borrows less money from other countries.
Obama, who has made jobs a top priority in this election year, also called on Congress to pass fresh measures to boost hiring and reiterated his pledge to tackle the budget deficit.
"Until jobs are being created to replace those we've lost -- until America is back at work -- my administration will not rest and this recovery will not be finished," Obama said in his Economic Report to Congress.
Obama appealed earlier this week to the Republican opposition to put aside ideological differences and help him craft legislation to boost growth and jobs.
But his Economic Report focused heavily on the deep financial hole that the country was in when Obama took over from George W. Bush in 2009 -- a blame game that may make Republican lawmakers less inclined to collaborate.
Democrats need their help after the party lost its 60-seat supermajority in the Senate in an upset Republican victory in Massachusetts last month.
Obama wants to ease voter concern over unemployment and soaring U.S. deficits. Weaving these themes together, he has also called for a fundamental shift in the way that the country does business, by reforming borrow-and-spending habits of the Bush years in favor of savings, investment and exports.
"In order to create jobs and raise incomes for the middle class over the long run, we need to export more and borrow less from around the world, and we need to save more money and take on less debt here at home," he said.
The White House expects the U.S. savings rate to stabilize at a rate of between 4 percent and 7 percent of income, compared to less than zero during the boom before the financial crisis in 2008. It used the report to revisit Obama initiatives to encourage exports and investment in the future.
However, it did not discuss the outlook for the dollar. Its decline on foreign exchange markets would make U.S. exports cheaper for foreign consumers to buy.
Most of the projections contained in the report were released in Obama's 2011 budget proposal last week. But it provided a new White House forecast that the economy would create an average of 95,000 jobs a month this year, rising to 190,000 a month on average in 2011.
However, this will not quickly fill the "jobs deficit" that has developed since the recession began in late 2007.
"Only when the unemployment rate has returned to normal levels and families are once again secure in their jobs, homes and savings will this terrible recession truly be over," the White House said in the report.
U.S. growth jumped by an annualized 5.7 percent pace in the fourth quarter, but this has not translated into significant improvements in employment.
The economy lost 20,000 jobs last month, and although the rate of unemployment decline to 9.7 percent, the White House forecast it would average 10 percent this year, spelling out that the rate could tick up as unemployed workers began searching for employment and were again counted in the jobless statistics.
Repeating estimates first released in the budget, the White House forecast unemployment moving down to 9.2 percent next year and 8.2 percent in 2012.
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