The economy will begin to grow and create jobs by the end of the year, the outgoing Bush administration asserted Friday.

"The administration has taken bold and decisive actions to help the economy, but those actions will take time to have their full effect," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said. "Americans can have faith that the economy can return to growth and job creation this year."

The economy shed over 500,000 jobs in December, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Friday, bringing the unemployment rate to a record 7.2 percent.

Perino defended President Bush's work last year to shore up the economy, and laid blame for the increased downturn on the housing and credit markets.

"Understanding how severe the problem was, the President worked aggressively to address the root causes of the current economic problems, and he signed an additional expansion of unemployment insurance benefits to help more Americans weather the downturn," Perino added.