A White House economic advisor says there is an "overwhelming" need to do more to spur U.S. job creation and solidify a fragile economic recovery. The comment follows a disappointing monthly unemployment report that showed continuing job losses in the United States.
Less than a year after President Barack Obama signed into law the biggest economic stimulus package in U.S. history, the head of his Council of Economic Advisers says additional measures are needed.
"The sense that we need to do more is overwhelming," Christina Romer said on ABC's This Week program. She said key elements of last year's $787-billion stimulus package - like unemployment benefits and aid to state governments - should be extended.
But Romer also called for new measures like tax incentives for businesses to hire new workers and cash rebates for people who make their homes more energy efficient.
Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported a net 85,000 job loss in the United States last month, with unemployment holding steady at 10 percent. The numbers were a disappointment to economists who had held out hope that December might have recorded the first net job gains seen in the United States in nearly two years.
"It was somewhat of a setback," said the economic advisor.
Romer added that mild job losses and a stable unemployment rate are an improvement over the situation that existed a year ago, when hundreds of thousands of jobs were being lost each month and the unemployment rate was soaring.
"In the first quarter of 2009 when we [the Obama administration] first came in, we were losing on average 691,000 jobs a month. The job losses are moderating."
But Republicans say it is time for President Obama to make good on his promise to actually improve America's economic conditions, rather than slowing the rate of decline. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spoke on Fox News Sunday.
"What are we about to celebrate as we go into the one-year anniversary of this [Obama] administration? We have no jobs, no health care [reform], $13-trillion worth of debt, and no sense of direction in how we are going to create those jobs," he said.
Last month, the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives passed a second stimulus bill aimed at jump-starting U.S. employment. The Senate is expected to consider the measure in coming weeks. Top economic voices in the Obama administration applaud the initiative, but add that, ultimately, America's private sector must lead the way in job creation and economic expansion.
The consensus view among economists is that the U.S. unemployment rate will gradually decline in coming months as the economy rebounds from the worst recession since World War II. But some well-known economists are considerably more pessimistic, arguing that unemployment could rise further and the United States could slip back into recession by year's end.