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Obama says more to be done to boost economy

August 05, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images )

The latest jobs report is a promising sign, but more can be done to "create a self-sustaining cycle" that will keep the economic recovery on track, President Obama said Friday morning.

The past year has been "tumultuous," the president acknowledged, pointing again to "headwinds" internationally and at home. But, even after the worst day on Wall Street in his term, Obama sounded an optimistic note.

"Things will get better. And we're going to get there together," he said.

The White House is attempting to execute another "pivot" to the economy, in this case away from the debt-limit battle that overwhelmed the attention of government officials for more than a month.

In the next two weeks, Obama will travel outside Washington for a series of economic-focused events, including a three-day bus tour of the Midwest.

Obama said he hoped to work with Congress in a much more constructive way after the August recess.

"I want to move quickly on things that will help the economy create jobs right now," he said. "The more we grow, the easier it will be to reduce our deficits."

The Labor Department reported that the economy added 117,000 net new jobs in July, including 154,000 in the private sector. That was just ahead of expectations and the highest since April. The anemic June report, originally showing just 18,000 new jobs, was also revised higher to 46,000.

The unemployment rate -- a key political indicator for the president as he gears up his reelection campaign -- dipped to 9.1% from 9.2% in June, reversing three straight months of increases.

The president spoke from the Washington Navy Yard, where he also discussed his administration's plans to help veterans get back into the civilian workforce.

According to the White House, the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans was 13.3%, a consequence of many working in sectors disproportionately affected by the recession. Another million service members are projected to leave the military in the next five years as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down.

The president outlined steps like a tax credit for firms that hire unemployed veterans and new programs in the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments for "reverse boot camp" job training.

"Our incredible servicemen and -women need to know that America values them not simply for what they can do in uniform, but for what they can do when they come home," he said. "We need them to keep making America strong."

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