News / USA

Obama: US Economy Moving In Right Direction

President Barack Obama (r) and the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, Jan. 6, 2012
President Barack Obama (r) and the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, Jan. 6, 2012
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama is cautiously welcoming Friday's news that the U.S. unemployment rate continues to fall.  The president says the December jobless numbers show that the nation’s economy is moving in the right direction.

With unemployment at its lowest level in almost three years, President Obama indicated that Americans have reason to be encouraged.

“It is important for the American people to recognize that we have now added 3.2 million new private sector jobs over the last 22 months, nearly 2 million new jobs last year alone," said President Obama.

December’s jobless rate was 8.5 percent, two-tenths of a percent below the revised rate for November.  More than 200,000 non-government jobs were added to the economy last month.

Still, the president acknowledged Friday that the recovery has not yet touched everyone.

“There are still a lot of struggles that people are going through out there," Obama said. "A lot of families are still having a tough time.  A lot of small businesses are still having a tough time.  But we are starting to rebound.  We are moving in the right direction.  We have made real progress.  Now is not the time to stop.”

Experts across the political spectrum also welcome the improved unemployment figures.  But Liz Rose, with the liberal think tank Campaign for America’s Future, says some segments of the population are not yet receiving the recovery’s benefits.

“Particularly, you know, if you are African-American, or if you are over 50, or if you are a student or someone who just graduated from school, the economy is still rough," said Rose. " We cannot just start celebrating.  We really want to still work on fixing the economy and making sure that those people get jobs.”

At the conservative Heritage Foundation, research fellow Rea Hederman says the December jobs numbers are a good sign, especially if the downward trend continues.

“It confirms that the sharp drop in the unemployment rate that we have seen in the last couple of months is real, so that is very positive news," said  Hederman. "But we still want to be cautious, because we saw a similar report like this back in 2010, in April, and unfortunately, at that point, the good news was fleeting as the labor market continued its slog.”

Mr. Obama said Friday the increase in job creation can be credited partly to the middle-class tax cut enacted last year.  And he called on Congress to pass a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, to take the place of the two-month extension that passed recently.

Rea Hederman says uncertainty over whether the longer extension will pass is hindering further economic improvement.

“Businesses want certainty, and right now coming out of Washington is a whole bunch of uncertainty." he said. "There are a lot of regulations, and even worse, there are policies such as a two-month extension of tax cuts that will do nothing to help the economy.”

Nearly all the jobs created in December were in the private sector.  At the same time, state and local governments cut another 12,000 jobs.

Liz Rose says government job cuts are also holding back the economic recovery.

“Federal, state and local governments are still laying off cops, teachers and firefighters," she said. "And so this is not the time for a premature turn to austerity.  We need to keep the government programs going that support people who do not have jobs.”

The president spoke at the Washington office of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Mr. Obama was introduced by the agency’s director, Richard Cordray.

The president appointed Cordray earlier this week without approval from Congress, infuriating many Republican lawmakers, some of whom said the move was illegal.  

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs