White House economists on Thursday announced their forecast for modest job growth this year along with an increase in the personal savings rate. They said that although the Obama administration inherited an economic crisis, the nation is on the road to recovery.
Each year, the president sends Congress a report on the state of the nation's economy. Drafted by the White House Council of Economic Advisors, the report details actions taken during the past year, and steps the administration will likely take the in future.
This year's report includes a lengthy section on the economic conditions that existed when Barack Obama became president last year, and the pace of the economic recovery.
Christina Romer, Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, told Bloomberg Television that to understand where the nation is today, Americans need to remember where it was one year ago - when President Obama was preparing to sign the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law.
"And I think that is one thing the economic report makes the case for is just how effective the actions that we have taken across the board have been over this last very difficult year," said Christina Romer.
The report says the United States will likely average about 95,000 new jobs each month this year, although the overall unemployment rate is expected to linger at about 10 percent.
Romer said more needs to be done to spur job creation
"We certainly all want it to be much stronger than 95,000 per month," she said. "And so that is why the president has made job creation his number one priority. That is why we are working night and day with Congress to try to get some jobs legislation on his desk because he asked for it."
The report also indicates that Americans have changed their personal spending habits, and are saving more. That means less demand for big-ticket items such as cars, making it more difficult for some manufacturers to expand production and hire new workers.
Shortly before the president approved the economic report, Romer told reporters that the shift to savings is a major reason why the White House wants to focus on exports.
"We are pretty sure that consumers are probably going to be saving more in the future, and that is probably a good and healthy thing," said Romer. "But it raises a question of where the demand is going to come from. And so the president talked about the importance of spurring investment, the importance of spurring exports as a way of making sure that there is demand to keeping people employed."
Congressional Republicans were quick to reject the economic report. The number two Republican in the House of Representatives, Eric Cantor of Virginia, said it blames the policies of the previous administration for the nation's economic woes.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs downplayed the criticism.
"Whose fault it is will be decided largely by history," said Robert Gibbs. "But there are 8.4 million people who don't care what history says. They want a job."
The economic report comes at a time when the White House is pushing for bipartisan cooperation on pieces of legislation that could have a major impact on the economy. They include measures to spur job creation and reform health care, and place new rules for the financial services sector.