WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama welcomed news today of better-than-expected private sector job growth. But with the unemployment rate ticking upward nevertheless, he said he’d roll out new plans next week to spur the economy.
Obama spoke after the Labor Department reported that private employers added 67,000 new jobs last month, and both July and June’s private-sector job figures were revised upward. Those numbers were better than first thought and pushed stock prices up.
But because significant numbers of people commenced or resumed a search for jobs in August, the overall unemployment rate rose slightly, to 9.6 percent.
Standing with his economic team in the Rose Garden, Obama said the jobs report was “positive news, and it reflects the steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession. But it’s not nearly good enough.”
“That’s why we need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest,” the president said.
Obama said he’d be proposing a broader set of ideas next week, when he travels to Milwaukee and Cleveland for an economy-focused week capped by a rare White House press conference. Administration officials say a big new stimulus bill is not in the offing — Congress would not be expected to support an expensive new package with crucial midterms on the horizon.
“We took a big shot early in the administration through the recovery act,” said departing White House economist Christina Romer, referring to the $862 billion stimulus Congress passed last year.
Romer, who is leaving her post as chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers Friday to return to the University of California Berkley, said new proposals would include, “targeted measures aimed at particular problems or incentivizing a particular area of the economy.”
Obama is continuing to prod the Senate to pass a bill that calls for about $12 billion in tax breaks for small businesses, as well as the creation of a $30 billion fund to help unfreeze lending. Republicans have likened the bill to the unpopular bailout of the financial industry.
Other possible measures include spending on infrastructure, additional tax breaks for small businesses and extending a research and development tax credit. But with lawmakers not returning to Capital Hill until mid-September, even more modest measures could be difficult for Democrats to pass before the November elections.