U.S. News

Bush: Economy not as robust as it needs to be

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Friday that the government’s latest jobs figures showed that the economy is not as robust as it needs to be.

“That’s a sign that this economy is not as robust as any of us would like it,” Bush said in a speech after touring a technology company in St. Louis.

But Bush insisted that a congressionally approved economic stimulus package now going into effect, including tax rebate checks to millions of people, would help Americans cope with rising energy and food prices.

Bush spoke after the Labor Department reported that 20,000 jobs were shed in April, far fewer than the 80,000 that economists polled by Reuters had anticipated would be lost.

The national unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in March.

“We’re a resilient economy,” Bush said. “We worked well with Congress and ... the effects of a robust attempt to inject life hasn’t really kicked in yet.”

The White House earlier said there was no evidence so far that the U.S. economy had slid into recession, in line with Bush’s refusal to call the economic slowdown a recession.

“The evidence of one isn’t there so far,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters on Air Force One as Bush headed for St. Louis.

Fratto also criticized those who have said the U.S. economy was contracting.

Reporting by Thomas Ferraro, writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jonathan Oatis