President Obama said Tuesday that he is "not concerned about a
double-dip recession," but he is dissatisfied that the economic recovery
has either slowed down or stalled.
In a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama said that while the "overall trend" of the recovery is encouraging, "obviously we're experiencing some headwinds."
A rise in the national unemployment rate and continually falling home prices provided the most solid evidence yet that the recovery has stalled, even though the White House notes that the 54,000 jobs added last month brings the streak to 15 months of positive job growth.
Republicans on Capitol Hill and running for their party's nomination to unseat Obama have seized on the data, blasting Obama for policies that have failed to arrest the recession or put people back to work.
The president said it is too early to tell if last month's lackluster job numbers are a one-month anomaly or part of a larger trend, and noted that high gas prices are contributing to the "headwinds" that have slowed the recovery.
The worrying signals about the economy have led some Democrats to suggest the economy needs more stimulus, something Republicans have ruled out. The White House also has said that private sector growth must now push the economy forward.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give an address later today where he might offer clues about the Fed's outlook for the economy. The central bank is expected to end its stimulative program known as "quantitative easing 2" at the end of June, which casts further uncertainty on the economic outlook.
In his own remarks on Tuesday, Obama fell into a familiar mode, trying to remind Americans that he inherited a great recession and that his policies have since created or saved more than 2 million jobs.
"I think people on both sides of the Atlantic are understandably frustrated with the ups and downs of the economy, the world economy," Obama said. "And it's just very important for folks to remember how close we came to complete disaster."
The president said that "our task is to not panic, not overreact," adding that the overall economic trends indicate "that we have set a path that will lead us to long-term economic growth."
"We are on a path of recovery, but it's got to accelerate," Obama said.
The president indicated that he will turn to Congress to look at extending unemployment benefits insurance, a payroll tax holiday and cutting taxes on investments.
Obama said that the "trauma" of the global economic meltdown, or "body blow," has left investors and markets "skittish and nervous" about hiring, but he expects that to change over time.
"Recovering from that kind of body blow takes time," Obama said. "And recovery is going to be uneven."
This story was updated at 1:00 p.m.