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07 November 2009 

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Obama: 10.2 Percent Unemployment 'A Sobering Number'

06 November 2009

President Obama, speaking at the White House, 6 Nov 2009
President Obama, speaking at the White House, 6 Nov 2009
U.S. President Barack Obama says new figures that show the nation's unemployment rate reached double digits in October are a reminder of the challenges that remain. The 10.2 percent jobless figure is the highest since 1983.

President Obama stood in the White House Rose Garden shortly after the number was announced, and said the U.S. economy has more work to do on reducing unemployment.

"Although we lost fewer jobs than we did last month, our unemployment rate climbed to over 10 percent, a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead," said President Obama.

The Labor Department says 15.7 million Americans were out of work in October.

The U.S. lost 190,000 jobs last month, down from the 219,000 jobs lost in September. It was the 22nd consecutive month that the economy has lost jobs, the longest slump in the 70 years records have been kept.

However, the number of jobs being lost has decreased steadily since January, when the number topped 700,000.

Some economists say the jobless rate could reach 10.5 percent next year because employers are still reluctant to hire. Economist James Shugg says the weakness in the U.S. job market is expected to continue.

"It is a lot easier for firms to make the decision not to lay someone off than it is actually to decide to take someone on," said James Shugg. "I think we are still at that point, the firms are getting less aggressive in terms of job cutting. But putting people on is still a little way to come yet."

The increased unemployment comes as the economy is showing signs of growth. The U.S. gross domestic product grew by 3.5 percent from July through September, and President Obama says more work is needed to revive hiring.

"But history tells us that job growth always lags behind economic growth, which is why we have to continue to pursue measures that create new jobs," said Mr. Obama.

The president Friday signed a $24 billion economic stimulus bill, which will extend unemployment benefits for 20 additional weeks.

"Already these benefits have helped 16 million unemployed Americans, and now that I have signed this bill, an additional 700,000 Americans who are still searching for work will be able to sign up for an extension of those benefits immediately," he said.

Mr. Obama says the legislation will also cut taxes for struggling businesses and will extend the tax credit for home buyers until April.

He says his economic advisers are considering other ideas to create jobs and boost the U.S. economy.

"Although it will take time and it will take patience, I am confident that our economy will recover," stated President Obama. "I am confident that we are moving in the right direction, and I promise that I will not rest until America prospers once again."

Republican lawmakers say the rising unemployment shows that Mr. Obama's economic stimulus plan is not working. Democrats say it shows that the losses would have been worse without it.

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