Obama jobs plan would send aid to states

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Even as he trumpeted a slowdown in the nation’s job losses, President Barack Obama put finishing touches Friday on a proposal he’ll unveil next week to “jump-start” business hiring across America.

In a speech from Washington on Tuesday, Obama plans to send Congress a list of ideas he supports for a new jobs bill. He will endorse sending the biggest chunk of fresh money to cash-strapped state and local governments to stem their layoffs and on expanding a program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, a senior administration official said.

Obama will also endorse new tax breaks for small businesses that hire workers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the package, and Obama’s speech, are still being crafted. The president will support some new spending on construction of roads, bridges and other construction, but prefers to see that as a smaller portion of the package because administration economists calculate it doesn’t give as quick a boost to job creation as the other measures, the official said.

“We need to grow jobs and get America back to work as quickly as we can,” Obama said Friday at a metal works plant in Allentown, where he visited with hard-hat workers. “On Tuesday, I’m going to speak in greater detail about the ideas I’ll be sending to Congress to help jump-start private sector hiring and get Americans back to work.”

Job losses in the U.S. have been the worst since the 1930s, but new statistics out Friday showed a relatively moderate shedding of 11,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dipped from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent in November. Obama called that “good news, just in time for the season of hope.”

But, even with the best jobs report the country has had since 2007, Obama said the situation was still dire.

“I still consider one job lost one job too many,” he said. “Good trends don’t pay the rent.”

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