President Obama is pledging a continued focus on work with the private sector to spur hiring, but he acknowledges that the economic recovery will “take time” and that quick fixes are elusive.

Obama emphasized economic initiatives in his weekly address on Saturday, two days ahead of a meeting with his jobs council.

The remarks come amid persistently high unemployment and signs that recovery from the 2008-2009 recession is slowing, posing a political threat to his reelection prospects.


“We’ve just come through the worst recession since the Great Depression, and while our economy as a whole has been growing and adding private sector jobs, too many folks are still struggling to get back on their feet,” Obama said in address.

“I wish I could tell you there was a quick fix to our economic problems. But the truth is, we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and we won’t get out of it overnight. It’s going to take time,” he said.

Obama talked up programs aimed at training students for manufacturing jobs and boosting clean energy sectors, while vowing more steps to come when he travels to North Carolina Monday to meet with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council.

The meeting will unfold against a backdrop of worrying economic news. The Labor Department reported June 3 that the economy added a paltry 54,000 jobs in May as the unemployment rate ticked up to 9.1 percent.

Obama said he is focusing on targeted initiatives to help the economy along.

“The good news is, when it comes to job-creation and economic growth, there are certain things we know we can do,” Obama said.

He said that government isn’t and shouldn’t be the main engine of job growth, but added:

“One thing government can do is partner with the private sector to make sure that every worker has the necessary skills for the jobs they’re applying for.”

Obama touted his Wednesday announcement of an initiative among colleges, the National Association of Manufacturers and others aimed at preparing a half-million community college students for manufacturing jobs.

Obama said his meeting with the jobs council – which is headed by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt – will address “additional steps we can take to spur private sector hiring in the short-term and ensure our workers have the skills and training they need in this economy.”

White House officials said Friday that the council will release a plan for short- and long-term economic growth on Monday. 

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Friday that the plan will include specific recommendations on rolling back regulations that burden business, as well as ways to spur private-sector investment. 

There will be a focus on certain sectors for growth potential, including manufacturing, healthcare, tourism and construction, she said.

Obama’s meeting with the council will occur at the corporate and manufacturing headquarters of Cree, a company that specializes in energy-efficient lighting systems, and Obama will also tour the company.

The White House has long argued that green energy technologies can be a major driver of jobs growth.

Obama is pushing to spare his energy initiatives from the budget ax, arguing that expanded spending in the arena is key to ensuring the country’s competitiveness.

“We know that more and more jobs are being created in the clean energy sector, so we’re investing in wind power, solar power, and biofuels that will make us less dependent on foreign oil and clean up our planet for our children. These are steps we know will make a difference in people’s lives – not just twenty years from now, or ten years from now, but now, and in the months to come,” Obama said Saturday.

More broadly, Obama used the remarks to show that he’s attuned to the hopes of Americans who “aren’t asking for much” – just a job that covers the bills and a little financial security.

“They want to know that if they work hard and live within their means, everything will be all right. They’ll be able to get ahead, and give their kids a better life. That’s the dream each of us has for ourselves and our families. And so long as I have the privilege of serving as President, I’ll keep fighting to put that dream within reach for all Americans,” Obama said.