White House predicts unemployment rate to average 10 percent in 2010

White House economists are forecasting slow job growth and an economic recovery more sluggish than in past economic recessions.

The U.S. economy will add jobs at a rate of 95,000 per month in 2010, after seeing nearly continuous monthly job losses since December 2007, according to the annual Economic Report of the President, released Thursday. But that won't make a huge dent in the unemployment rate, as more than 8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession began more than two years ago.

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The jobless rate, now at 9.7 percent, will average 10 percent for the year, according to the report.

"Indeed, it is possible that the rate will rise for a while as some discouraged workers return to the labor force, before starting to generally decline," the White House Council of Economic Advisers wrote in their report.

The jobless rate will fall by almost 1 percent annually until 2015, when it is projected to return to its pre-recession level of less than 6 percent.

The economy will expand by 3 percent in 2010 and by more than 4 percent in the subsequent three years, but that's a slower rate than previous recoveries, the president's economists said.

Despite the gloomy projections, the White House said its efforts, especially the stimulus spending, have helped rescue "an economy in freefall."

Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said the stimulus that pumped about $800 billion into the economy has been an "unsung hero of the past year." Roughly 700,000 jobs were lost monthly before the stimulus was passed in February 2009, far more than the 69,000 jobs lost per month during the last quarter of 2009, the report noted.

"When the political rancor of the moment passes and dispassionate analysis is done by experts, I have no doubt that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be viewed as one of the great triumphs of timely, effective, countercyclical macroeconomic policy," Romer wrote on the White House blog.

Republicans have blasted the stimulus, arguing it hasn't done enough to create jobs and that it is contributing to record deficit levels that are expected to exceed $1 trillion this year and in 2011.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) criticized the White House report for praising "failed policies" and for calling for more government spending.

"Instead of praising themselves and blaming others, a greater focus on small businesses and smart solutions to reduce uncertainty and create jobs would be welcomed and is long overdue,” Cantor said in a statement.

This article was updated at 1:55 p.m.

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