The jobs situation could worsen slightly over the coming few months, US President Barack Obama warned on Sept. 20 as he declined to spell out whether the world's largest economy was out of recession.
"I want to be clear, that probably the jobs picture is not going to improve considerably and it could even get a little bit worse over the next couple of months," Obama said in an interview with CNN. "We're probably not going to start seeing enough job creation to deal with the, you know, a rising population until some time next year."
As the nation battles its worst downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s, the unemployment rate rose to 9.7% in August. And Obama has already warned that it may well tip over 10% before it begins to fall.
The U.S. labor market has moved closer to recovery as month-on-month job losses in August narrowed to 216,000, compared to 276,000 jobs lost in July well down from a peak of 741,000 losses in January.
Obama said he believed the embattled U.S. economy would begin slowly adding jobs, saying: "What we've done, I think, in the first eight months is to stop the bleeding."
But he acknowledged there were huge challenges ahead. "We lost so many jobs that making up for those that have already been lost is going to require really high growth rates," the U.S. president said.
"You need 150,000 additional jobs each month, just to keep pace with a growing population. So if we're only adding 50,000 jobs, that's a great reversal from losing 700,000 jobs early this year. But, you know, it means that we've still got a ways to go."
As the downturn bottoms out, figures showed the U.S. economy shrank at a 1% annual pace in the second quarter, reflecting an easing of the deep recession that led to a 6.4% pace of decline in the first quarter.
But Obama, who hosts a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, starting on Sept. 24 aimed at tightening financial regulations, declined to add his voice to growing speculation that the U.S. was clawing its way out of recession.
"Obama launched a full-bore media offensive on five Sept. 20 talk shows ahead of a crucial week, including the UN General Assembly and the G20 summit.
As countries pull back from recession, led by growth in Asia, the onus on leaders gathering in Pittsburgh is to decide when to pull the plug on state stimulus packages and how to coordinate that move.
Obama said the talks would also focus on how to expand US export markets. "We can't go back to the era where the Chinese or the Germans or other countries just are selling everything to us," he said. "We're taking out a bunch of credit card debt or home equity loans, but we're not selling anything to them."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009