Washington: As the US lost 54,000 jobs last month, President Barack Obama promised a new package of ideas next week on job creation and lashed out at Republicans for blocking a legislation to help small business.
Obama’s renewed criticism of opposition Republicans came in the wake of Friday’s release of new unemployment figures showing a rise from 9.5 per cent to 9.6 per cent in August.
Most of the job losses, however, came from the public sector as the government cut 114,000 temporary census workers according to the Labour Department. Private businesses added 67,000 jobs to their payrolls.
August was the eighth straight month that businesses added jobs, following nearly two straight years of job losses. So far this year businesses have added 763,000 workers to payrolls.
“That’s positive news,” Obama said at the White House, flanked by his top economic advisers. It “reflects steps we’ve already taken to break the back of this recession.”
“I don’t regret the notion that we are moving forward … because of the steps that we’ve taken,” he told reporters. “The key point I’m making right now is that the economy is moving in a positive direction. … We just have to speed it up.”
But he warned, “There’s no quick fix to the worst recession we’ve experienced since the Great Depression.”
Senate Republicans, he said, were responsible for a “needless delay” in the passage of legislation designed to increase bank loans to small businesses.
Specifically, the measure would set up a billion lending fund to help community banks offer small businesses credit. It also would provide tax breaks to small businesses that invest in new equipment and hire unemployed workers.
The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in June. Republican opposition has focused, among other things, on the cost of the measure.
Republicans lashed back at the president, blaming him for what most observers still characterise as a weak recovery.
In a statement, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said, “With 54,000 more Americans finding themselves out of work this month and unemployment rising to 9.6 per cent, President Obama’s ‘Recovery Summer’ has ended right where it began, with Americans continuing to lose their jobs and unable to find new ones.”