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President on Jobs Report: Positive, But Not Nearly Good Enough

This morning, President Obama addressed today’s Department of Labor report showing the unemployment rate rose in August to 9.6 percent. Obama focused on the improving private-sector job growth, but said that the report was not nearly good enough and that his administration is working on measures to boost hiring.

At the end of his prepared remarks, Obama answered a question asking “to what degree to you regret the administration’s decision to call this ‘Recovery Summer’?”

He replied: “I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward because of the steps that we’ve taken. And I’m going to have a press conference next week where, after you guys are able to hear where we’re at, we’ll be able to answer some specific questions.”

He continued: “[T]he key point I’m making right now is that the economy is moving in a positive direction. Jobs are being created. They’re just not being created as fast as they need to, given the big hole that we experienced. And we’re going to have to continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to come up with ideas that can further accelerate that job growth.”

Here is the full text of Obama’s remarks:

Good morning, everybody. As we head into Labor Day weekend, I know many people across this country are concerned about what the future holds for themselves, for their families, and for the economy as a whole.

As I’ve said from the start, there’s no quick fix to the worst recession we’ve experienced since the Great Depression. The hard truth is that it took years to create our current economic problems, and it will take more time than any of us would like to repair the damage. Millions of our neighbors are living with that painfully every day.

But I want all Americans to remind themselves there are better days ahead. Even after this economic crisis, our markets remain the most dynamic in the world. Our workers are still the most productive. We remain the global leader in innovation, in discovery, in entrepreneurship.

Now, the month I took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. This morning, new figures show the economy produced 67,000 private sector jobs in August -– the eighth consecutive month of private job growth. Additionally, the numbers for July were revised upward to 107,000.

Now, that’s 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. In the weeks ahead, I’ll be discussing some of these ideas in more detail.

But one thing we also have to do right now –- one thing we have a responsibility to do right now –- is to lift up our small businesses, which accounted for over 60 percent of job losses in the final months of last year. That’s why once again, I’m calling on Congress to make passing a small business jobs bill its first order of business when it gets back into session later this month.

Now, here’s why this is so important. Up until this past May, we were not only waiving fees for entrepreneurs who took out Small Business Administration loans, we were also encouraging more community banks to make loans to responsible business owners. These steps are part of the reason about 70,000 new Small Business Administration loans have been approved since I took office. And I thank Karen Mills for the outstanding job she’s been doing as Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

We’ve also been extending — fighting to extend these loan enhancements with a small business jobs bill. It’s a bill that will more than double the amount some small business owners can borrow to grow their companies. It will completely eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments, so small business owners can buy new equipment and expand. And it will accelerate $55 billion in tax cuts for businesses, large and small, that make job-creating investments in the next 14 months.

And keep in mind, it is paid for. It will not add one dime to our deficit. So, put simply, this piece of legislation is good for workers; it’s good for small business people; it’s good for our economy. And yet, Republicans in the Senate have blocked this bill — a needless delay that has led small business owners across this country to put off hiring, put off expanding, and put off plans that will make our economy stronger.

I’ve repeated since I ran for office, there is no silver bullet that is going to solve all of our economic problems overnight. But there are certain steps that we know will make a meaningful difference for small businessmen and women, who are the primary drivers of job creation. There are certain measures that we know will advance our recovery. This small business jobs bill is one of them.

And I’m confident that if we’re willing to put partisanship aside and be the leaders the American people need us to be, if we’re willing to do what’s next not for the — what’s best not for the next election, but for the next generation, then we are not only going to see America’s hardworking families and America’s small businesses bounce back, but we’ll rebuild America’s economy stronger than it’s been before.

Thank you very much.

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