WASHINGTON — As the prospect of double-digit unemployment looms, President Barack Obama on Monday sought to set expectations for the nation, saying job losses will likely roll on “for weeks and months to come” because hiring always lags behind in an economic rebound.
“We just are not where we need to be yet,” Obama said as he met with a panel of economic advisers. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Unemployment hit a 26-year high of 9.8 percent in September. The next monthly reports come out Friday and could show it topping 10 percent.
Still, the economy is growing again. Reports out Monday show improvement in manufacturing, construction and contracts to buy homes.
Obama said that building a sustainable economy and getting people back to work remain his “administration’s overriding focus.” Obama helped push through a $787 billion economic stimulus package earlier this year, and he says the administration, Congress and the private sector must take more bold steps to help.
Obama spoke as he met with his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The session was open to reporters and streamed live on the White House Web site.
Obama added that the U.S. must break out of a “debilitating gridlock on trade policy,” by ending the false choice between a wide-open, freewheeling import policy or fearful, protectionist approach to trade. He called for a more balanced policy of letting the world know America will compete and trade fairly.