Jobless rate ticks up to 9.6 percent; Obama to offer new stimulus measures

President Obama said Friday that he plans next week to unveil a broad package of measures to speed up an economic recovery.

The president spoke after a new Labor Department report showed private businesses added 67,000 jobs in August, more than forecast. Overall, the nation lost 54,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.6 percent.

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The increase in hiring by businesses is modest, and not enough to lower the unemployment rate. Still, private forecasts had predicted even less growth from payrolls in August, and stocks rose after the report was released. New figures for June and July also suggested job losses in those months were not as bad as once thought.

Obama offered no details about the new proposals, but said he was “confident Democrats and Republicans can come together to agree on steps to move the economy forward.”

“The key point I’m making right now is the economy is moving in a positive direction, it’s just not moving as quickly as we’d like it,” Obama said.

Obama was asked if he regretted describing the last three months as the “recovery summer.” The administration offered the name to highlight spending over the last three months from last year’s stimulus package.

“I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward,” Obama said.

A wave of new surveys and projections released this week suggests Democrats are in for a drubbing in House and Senate elections in November, in large part because of the economy. Republicans held a 10-point advantage in Gallup’s most recent poll of whether voters would support a generic Democratic or Republican candidate.

Republicans pounced on the latest unemployment figures by pressing their argument that the president's agenda for the economy is failing.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Obama's "recovery summer" had ended "right where it began, with Americans continuing to lose their jobs and unable to find new ones."

Steele, GOP House Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) all released statements within 30 minutes of the report's release.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Democratic efforts were moving the country out of the "Bush recession" despite opposition from Republicans. "Republicans promise to take us back to the failed Bush agenda that got us into this mess in the first place," she said in a statement. "We must keep America moving in a new direction — not back to the reckless policies that cost us more than 8 million jobs and weakened the value of our homes, retirements and college savings."

Obama is considering new business tax breaks to provide a jolt to the sluggish economy. He has a wave of appearances next week that are focused on the economy and jobs, and will hold his first press conference in several months on Sept. 10.

In Rose Garden comments on Monday, Obama said he and his economic team were looking at measures that could promote growth and hiring in the short term, including tax breaks. The Washington Post on Thursday reported the president is considering a permanent extension of the research-and-development tax, as well as a payroll tax holiday that could let businesses keep $300 billion.


On Friday, Obama again called on Congress to approve a small-business bill when it returns to Washington this month. The legislation has been stuck in the Senate.

The labor report showed the economy lost 54,000 jobs in July, rather than the 131,000 previously counted. In June, revised figures showed the economy lost 175,000 jobs instead of 221,000. Most of the job losses in all three months were due to the continued elimination of temporary Census 2010 positions.

In August, government employment fell by 121,000, as 114,000 temporary workers hired for the census completed their work, according to the report. Only 82,000 temporary workers remained at Census, from a high of 564,000 in May.

This story was first posted at 8:37 a.m. and last updated at 12:27 p.m.