Obama announces forum on growth, jobs creation

President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. military Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base in  Alaska. (Associated Press)
President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. military Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – With economic and political concerns rising as the unemployment rate has broken double digits, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced he will hold a high-level forum at the White House in December to try to find new ways to reverse the job loss.

“Even though we’ve slowed the loss of jobs … the economic growth that we’ve seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need,” Obama said.

Obama made the comments at the White House shortly before departing for a trip to Asia during which economic growth and job creation will be major issues, particularly with the Chinese. He said he would push Asian and Pacific countries to open their markets further to U.S. exports.

Unemployment nationwide spiked in October to 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years.

Obama said that next month, he would gather chief executives, small-business owners, economists, labor leaders and others to discuss ways to create jobs and grow the economy.

“We all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times,” Obama said. “But we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step that we can to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.”

Obama administration officials have stressed that the pace of job loss has slowed considerably since January, when the economy lost 741,000 jobs – the number of jobs lost last month was 190,000 – and job growth traditionally lags economic growth. That economic growth has returned, with the gross domestic product expanding at an annualized rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of this year after four straight quarters of contraction.

But administration officials and Democratic lawmakers are increasingly concerned as unemployment continues growing heading into a midterm-election year in 2010.

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