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Obama: ‘We still have a long way to go’ on jobs

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

In the wake of Friday's woeful jobs numbers, President Obama acknowledged that "we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do" before the economy is working for Americans again.

"The economy as a whole just isn't producing nearly enough jobs for everybody who's looking," Obama said in prepared comments in the White House Rose Garden. He cited "tough headwinds" that are exerting a drag on the economy, including natural disasters, high gas prices, economic turmoil in Europe, and state and local government budget cuts.

The Labor Department reported this morning that the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent last month, with the economy adding just 18,000 jobs -- even fewer than May's paltry revised figure of 25,000.

The numbers make it painfully clear that the recovery from the Great Recession--officially under way for two years--is struggling to sustain any momentum, and raise the fear that the economy could soon re-enter a period of contraction.

But Obama offered few new ideas for how to spur growth and hiring. He recommended infrastructure spending and help for entrepreneurs, among other proposals, both of which were floated recently by the president's jobs council.

He also cited the need to "rein in the deficit" and come to an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, in order to give businesses the confidence they need to start hiring.

Most economists believe that cutting spending will reduce growth, not boost it, and that additional government spending is needed in the short term to create demand.

President Obama faces re-election in 16 months. No president has been re-elected when the jobless rate was above 7.2 percent--the level it was at in November 1984 when President Reagan won re-election in a landslide.

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