By Sam Youngman - 08/07/09 01:43 PM EDT
But, he said, “I'm convinced that we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Obama used his remarks to defend his $787 billion economic stimulus package, noting that there will be more jobs created because of increased infrastructure building and repair.
The president said his recovery act allowed families to survive “the worst phase of the recession.”
Obama's optimism came hours after a senior adviser said the president still expects unemployment to reach 10 percent this year.
Some economists attributed the drop in unemployment from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent in July to people having left the workforce.
“That’s a mirage,” said Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. He predicted the unemployment rate would rise in coming months.
Still, he noted the economy lost an average of 600,000 jobs in the first few months of the recession, compared to an average of 300,000 in the last three months. He said that decline is because of the stimulus.
Republicans noted throughout Friday that despite the dip in the national unemployment rate, there were still almost 250,000 jobs lost in July.
“The trillion-dollar stimulus bill has so far been short on job creation and long on government debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. "And while any sign of the recession slowing is welcome news, it would be a mistake to credit $1 trillion in new government debt rather than the resilience and productivity of the American worker.”