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Obama Disappointed By Jobs Numbers

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

President Obama called today's jobs report sobering. But he said there are signs that declines in the job market are not as deep as they were earlier in the year.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports from the White House.

DON GONYEA: The president had just finished a meeting with executives from energy companies - companies that he says will be creating jobs with the help of a new energy bill that has passed the U.S. House, but still must get through the Senate. But even as he looked at those potential future jobs he addressed the latest report that shows how troubled the economy is today. The unemployment rate is now 9.5 percent - its highest in 26 years.

President BARACK OBAMA: We've taken some extraordinary measures to block the hard edges of the worst recession of our lifetime, and to offer assistance to those who have borne the brunt of this economic storm.

GONYEA: The president was referring to the $787 billion stimulus package enacted in February.

Pres. OBAMA: But as I've said from the moment that I walked into the door of this White House, it took years for us to get into this mess and it will take us more than a few months to turn it around.

GONYEA: But Republicans pounced on the jobs number saying it's proof that the stimulus is not working. They released a new YouTube video to coincide with the jobs report. It features a bloodhound who's out searching for the jobs.

(Soundbite of video)

Unidentified Man: We put the dogs on the money trail to find out.

(Soundbite of dog barks)

Unidentified Man: We went to AIG with a stimulus - meant big bonuses for big executives, but no new jobs. In Wisconsin, the stimulus paid for a bridge to bar called Rusty's Backwater Saloon. They've got great burgers but no new jobs.

GONYEA: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took issue without saying the stimulus was helping to slow the pace of job loss. In the first quarter of this year, the economy lost an average 700,000 jobs per month. And in the most recent quarter the monthly losses averaged a far smaller 436,000.

Mr. ROBERT GIBBS (White House Press Secretary): I think there is a sense that the beginnings of stabilization are taking hold and hopefully the worst job loss is behind us.

GONYEA: But Gibbs still acknowledged the administration expects the unemployment rate to worsen, topping 10 percent in the coming months.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Don Gonyea
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.