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Obama: Economic Recovery Is Speeding Up

President Barack Obama talks about the economy during an event at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Va., Friday, Feb. 3, 2012.

President Barack Obama Friday welcomed news that the U.S. unemployment rate dropped again in January. The president again pressed Congress to support his economic proposals.

Mr. Obama is encouraged by the better-than-expected numbers, which show 243,000 new jobs and a jobless rate that eased to 8.3 percent in January from 8.5 percent in December.

“These numbers will go up and down in the coming months, and there are still far too many Americans who need a job, or need a job that pays better than the one they have now. But the economy is growing stronger. The recovery is speeding up," said President Obama.

The chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, called the job gains in recent months “an encouraging sign.”

Mr. Obama, speaking at a fire station in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, urged lawmakers to pass a payroll tax cut extension “without drama or delay.”

“So I want to send a clear message to Congress: Do not slow down the recovery that we are on," said Obama. "Do not muck it up. Keep it moving in the right direction.”

While the administration is cautiously embracing the improved jobs figures, top Republicans say they would do better.

The leading Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, said Mr. Obama’s policies have prevented a true economic recovery.

A statement from the number-two Republican in the House of Representatives, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said “We can do more.”

As part of his economic proposals, President Obama said Friday he will do all he can to provide new jobs and opportunities to returning military veterans.

“They have managed convoys and moved tons of equipment over dangerous terrain," he said. "They have tracked millions of dollars of military assets. They have handled pieces of equipment that are worth tens of millions of dollars. They do incredible work.”

The president said more than 3 million veterans have returned to civilian life in the past 10 years, and hundreds of thousands more are expected home as the war in Afghanistan winds down.