By Sam Youngman - 09/01/09 07:13 PM EDT
Obama in remarks at the Rose Garden said the report showing growth by U.S. manufacturers for the first time in 18 months is evidence the economy is improving after the worst recession in decades.
The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that the U.S. manufacturing sector had grown for the first time since January 2008. The recession officially began, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, in December 2007.
The institute reported that its index of U.S. manufacturers grew to 52.9 from 48.9 the previous month. Anything above 50 represents growth.
Other reports highlighted growth in European manufacturing.
The White House is awaiting another report on Friday: numbers on job losses in August. Many economists expect the August jobs report to show a slight increase in the unemployment rate, which dropped a tenth of a point in July to 9.4 percent.
Obama warned Tuesday that “there is no doubt we still have a long way to go,” and pledged to continue working until every American that wants a job can have a job.
The manufacturing growth comes months after Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus bill into law. Republicans have criticized Obama and congressional Democrats for supporting the stimulus at a time of record budget deficits, and have repeatedly described it as a failure.
The growth in manufacturing will be used by Obama and Democrats to bolster their case that the stimulus had a positive impact by preventing a greater economic collapse. Obama and Democrats argue that more jobs would have been lost without the stimulus.