* Obama shakes up economic team to tackle growth
* Sperling replacing Summers as Obama adviser
* Obama to promote Furman to number two at NEC
(Recasts with Obama remarks, business reaction)
By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON, Jan 7 President Barack Obama
reshaped his economic team on Friday, picking another veteran
of the Clinton administration in a staff shake-up aimed at
driving the U.S. recovery and winning re-election in 2012.
Obama named Gene Sperling as the new head of his National
Economic Council in remarks after a report showed the country's
jobless rate had declined last month but still remained high.
"He is a public servant who has devoted his life to making
this economy work," Obama told several dozen workers at the
Thompson Creek Window Co. in Landover, Maryland.
U.S. unemployment dipped to 9.4 percent last month from 9.8
percent in November, the Labor Department reported on Friday,
while the economy created 103,000 new jobs, which was fewer
than analysts had expected.
Sperling's pick to replace Larry Summers at the economic
council follows Obama's naming of a new chief of staff and the
departure of his press secretary, as the president shakes up
his team after Republicans took control of the House of
Representatives this week.
The NEC coordinates economic policy across the
administration and its head wields great influence within the
White House. Summers who also served President Bill Clinton as
Treasury Secretary, was seen as providing key advice to Obama
during the depths of the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Sperling, a counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy
Geithner, served as head of the NEC for Clinton between 1997
and 2000, and helped Clinton battle the Republicans and,
eventually, balance the budget.
"He helped formulate the policies that contributed to
turning deficits to surpluses and a time of prosperity and
progress for American families in a sustained way," Obama
The Business Roundtable, an association of U.S. chief
executives, welcomed Obama's choice and said Sperling brought
both experience and expertise to the post.
"With the serious economic challenges our nation continues
to face -- high unemployment, growing deficits and slow growth
-- Business Roundtable looks forward to working collaboratively
with Mr. Sperling and policymakers from both parties," it said
in a statement.
Obama, who must boost growth to ease U.S. unemployment or
be punished in the 2012 presidential election, on Thursday
tapped another former Clinton aide, William Daley, an executive
at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), as his chief of staff.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also plans to step down early
next month to become an outside adviser to Obama's re-election
The changes, as Obama enters the second two years of his
term, reflect the White House's need to adapt to the new
balance of power in Washington after Republicans won big
against Obama's Democrats in the November elections.
Republicans tapped into public fury over government
spending and a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, and vow to use
their increased congressional muscle to undo Obama's healthcare
reform program and curb federal borrowing.
Obama, who says he expects a tough debate over spending and
taxes, late last year enlisted another old Clinton hand when he
picked Jack Lew to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
In addition to Sperling, Obama announced the promotion of
Jason Furman to the number two slot at the NEC, the official
said. Obama also said he would nominate Katharine Abraham to
the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Heather
Higginbottom as deputy director of OMB. Both will need
confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Steve
Holland, Editing by Anthony Boadle and Paul Simao)