President Barack Obama is pointing to the latest monthly U.S. government employment report saying it shows his policies are continuing to be successful in helping the nation recover from the economic recession. The president says despite the good news, it's clear more work needs to be done.
The U.S. economy registered its largest increase in jobs in three years in March, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that 162,000 jobs were added.
However, the overall unemployment picture remained the same, a national 9.7 percent rate for the third straight month, a fact that provided more fuel for opposition Republicans and other critics of the president.
In a speech in North Carolina, the president focused on the positive, noting that a year ago the economy was losing some 700,000 jobs each month.
"Today is an encouraging day. We learned that the economy actually produced a substantial number of jobs instead of losing a substantial number of jobs. We are beginning to turn the corner," he said.
The president added that despite the good news in the March jobs report more work remains to be done, saying the government will not be able to reverse the impact of the recession overnight or the toll it has taken on Americans.
Echoing this was the head of the president's Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, who said recent positive monthly figures are an "important beginning" though it will take many months of robust growth to turn the economy around and put Americans back to work.
Critics noted that the 162,000 job figure was below the 190,000 to 200,000 level the administration had hoped for, and the fact that 48,000 of the jobs added in March were temporary government positions linked to conducting the U.S. census.
In a flurry of emails, Republicans asserted the president has been unsuccessful in private sector job growth, and would need to add 750,000 jobs each month for the rest of this year to reach a previous target of 3.7 million jobs by the end of 2010.
In an editorial in a newspaper in North Carolina, where the president was speaking, House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner asserted that Americans were suffering as a result of new health care reform legislation and government bailouts.
Among the ongoing worrying aspects of the job picture is the fact that the so-called "underemployment rate" for Americans who have been unable to find work or have given up hope of locating a job actually rose slightly to 16.9 percent.
In an off-camera briefing for reporters, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the March job figures very encouraging, noting that the economy gained 54,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year.
At the same time, echoing the president's remarks in North Carolina, Gibbs again pointed to the 8.5 million jobs lost since the U.S. recession began in 2007 during the administration of former President George W. Bush, saying the numbers in the latest report are still a genuine cause for concern.