President Bush says he knows Americans are concerned about the U.S. economy but he is confident that tax rebates and business incentives will help. The president's comments follow the release of new figures that show the economy shed 63,000 jobs in February. VOA's Scott Stearns has more on the president's remarks.
February job losses were the biggest in nearly five years and followed the loss of 22,000 jobs in January. President Bush says the economy is slowing but he believes it will not go into recession.
"Losing a job is painful, and I know Americans are concerned about our economy. So am I," he said. "It is clear our economy has slowed, but the good news is we anticipated this and took decisive action to bolster the economy by passing a growth package that will put money into the hands of American workers and businesses."
Many American taxpayers will receive $600 rebates in May. Mr. Bush says that will boost consumer spending and create more jobs.
The Friday jobs report reflects big cuts in construction, manufacturing, retail, and financial services. The Labor Department says unemployment fell from 4.9 percent to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people stopped looking for jobs.
Bush Administration economists are still backing the president's assertion that the economy is not heading for recession, which is usually defined as six consecutive months of negative growth. Economic growth for the last three months of 2007 was just six-tenths of one percent.
Opposition Democrats in Congress say the president is not doing enough to help those most affected by the economic slowdown. They wanted the stimulus plan to include an extension of unemployment benefits and help to pay for home heating fuel.
"By every indication, things are getting worse," he said. "President Bush said this week that he doesn't think our economy is headed for recession. This morning, all signs say the president is wrong. But regardless of what label we use, there is no doubt whatsoever that people in America are suffering," he said.
Reid says the $600 tax rebates will help Americans pay for groceries and gas. But he says the president and Republicans in Congress should do more to help the record number of Americans who are facing the loss of their homes, because they can no longer afford higher mortgage payments.