Obama pressures US companies to up hiring

President Obama this week pressured U.S. companies to increase hiring, saying that conditions in the economy and job market are improving. 

Speaking at a economic town hall event broadcast Thursday by CBS News, Obama countered a Republican claim that uncertain economic conditions are driving high unemployment. When asked about outsourcing, Obama said some jobs are not coming back, but that the private sector needs to start creating new industries that can grow jobs.

"I think a lot of employers are feeling good about the economy," he said. "The issue here is not uncertainty … they need to start placing their bets on America."

Obama is looking to build confidence in the jobs market and follow up on a stronger-than-expected April jobs report while addressing an issue that is certain to dominate his reelection landscape in 2012.

April's jobs report showed that businesses added 268,000 jobs in a month, an unexpected boost for a White House that was expecting lower numbers.

But Obama is still showing signs of vulnerability on the economy, the issue the public ranks as the most important. The unemployment rate ticked back up to 9 percent, and polls show that the public does not approve of his handling of the economy, despite giving him a higher job approval rating overall.

Obama explained that layoffs by state and local governments are helping drive the high unemployment rate, underscoring his push for greater private-sector hiring. The president credited his policies for helping to create better hiring conditions, saying that he signed tax cuts for small businesses.

But Republicans have indicated they are ready to stake the 2012 election on the economy, arguing that Obama's policies have done more harm than good.

"If the economy is the issue, which I do believe it will be, there's no chance this president gets reelected," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview with The Hill.

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