Summers: Economy has 'long way to go'; recovery to accelerate

The economy has a "long way to go" before unemployment falls significantly, although job numbers will continue to improve, Lawrence Summers, the director for the National Economic Council, said Sunday.

Summers told ABC News' "This Week" that job creation "will accelerate," but he cautioned that "we are in no position to rest or to be complacent."

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On CNN’s State of the Union, Summers blamed Republicans for blocking policies that would further help the economy, such as legislation to extend unemployment benefits.

As many as 200,000 unemployed will lose their jobless benefits on Monday because Congress failed to bridge an impasse over unemployment insurance.

Republicans want the $9.3 billion, 30-day program to be paid for, but Democrats have called the extension an emergency appropriation that didn’t need to be offset. Summers agreed, telling CNN that the "basic protection" should not be cut off.

"That’s not how our government should be working," he said.

Summers appeared on Sunday following positive job figures last week that showed the economy created 162,000 jobs in March, the first growth in three years. But unemployment remained at 9.7 percent.

Summers told CNN the economy had a "long way to go" before unemployment dropped to 5 percent.


But he said the stimulus package is continuing to help the economy recover. More projects will be started in the first six months of 2010 than were implemented in the first half of 2009, he said.

"It will gather force," Summers said on CNN.

On "This Week," Summers said employment trends are "going to be upwards," although he didn't rule out the possibility that some months might still see job losses.

Summers also gave an optimistic assessment of another one of the administration’s priorities to "This Week."

He predicted Congress would pass a financial reform bill, despite a massive lobbying effort by financial firms.