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'Long way to go' in taming US joblessness

world Updated: Apr 04, 2010 21:24 IST

AFP
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The United States has "a long way to go" in taming its stubbornly high unemployment rate, despite positive jobs creation news last week, top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said on Sunday.

"We've got a long way to go. We've inherited a terrible situation, the most pressing economic problems since the Great Depression in our country," Summers told CNN television's State of the Union program.

Summers called efforts to bring down the high unemployment, which has been stuck for months at 9.7 percent, the "preoccupation" of President Barack Obama's administration.

"There's a great deal we've got to do, and we've got to do it with all of the energy that we can," Summers said.

"It is the president's preoccupation to put people back to work," he said. "That's what the legislation he signed into law -- to give incentives to businesses to hire people who've been out of work -- was all about.

Summers also cited a raft of legislation in the pipeline, to "channel credit to small business, to protect the jobs of those on the front lines, teachers and policemen, to make investments" -- all with an eye towards job creation.

He told ABC television's "This Week" program, meanwhile, that after months of grinding recession and a stalled unemployment rate, he "expects the trend to be upwards" in the US economy.

But Summers suggested the path toward economy recovery may not be smooth, warning that "the numbers could fluctuate."

His remarks came after the US government released figures last week showed that the recession-wracked American economy may be turning a corner, creating 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest increase in three years.

Last week's upbeat economic news was tempered however by sobering data showing that the number of people who have not worked in more than six months rose by 414,000 in March, to 6.5 million people.

The US Labor Department also said Friday that the job growth was not enough to budge the unemployment rate from 9.7 percent.

Since the recession began in December 2007, around eight million Americans have lost their jobs. Some 15 million Americans remain unemployed.