Arlington, Va. (CNSNews.com) – After a disappointing jobs report, President Barack Obama announced in a key battleground state Friday that he would introduce new job proposals to Congress next week.
“First I want to say something about the economy that we are working to rebuild for you because I want to make sure after you get an education you get a good job after you graduate,” Obama told high school students, parents and teachers at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va.
The president actually heralded the numbers that were widely reported to be disappointing, as unemployment is down to 8.1 percent - a drop, but still 39 straight months above eight percent, which the administration said would not happen if the $787 billion stimulus act was passed in 2009.
Obama admitted too many people are unemployed and more work needs to be done.
“That’s why next week I’m going to ask Congress as they start to get back to work to take some actions on some commonsense ideas right now to accelerate job growth,” Obama said. “That’s what we need. This strategy of just say no to ideas that will create new jobs is not an option. There is too much at stake for all of us not to be rowing in the same direction.”
The president did not specify what the job proposals would be, but previous jobs proposals have revolved around infrastructure projects.
Obama spoke to juniors and seniors at a high school in Virginia in what was classified as an official presidential event, although separating those events from campaign events have stirred controversy in recent months. On Saturday, Obama is to hold two battleground state events as the “official” launch of his reelection campaign, first to Columbus, Ohio, and then back to Richmond, Va.
Obama’s Republican opponent Mitt Romney was in Virginia this week for multiple appearances, including with the state’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, considered a potential running mate for Romney in the fall.
Obama – the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 – holds a seven-point lead over Romney in a Washington Post poll, the most recent survey of Old Dominion voters. But, Obama has a slimmer 3.2 percent edge over Romney in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
The Labor Department announced Friday that hiring had increased in April, but at a decreased rate for the second straight month and lower than expected. Unemployment fell to 8.1 percent with 130,000 jobs added.
When Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8 percent, and the nation has lost 572,000 jobs since. Unemployment did reach about 10 percent during the administration before declining.
There are reportedly 968,000 unemployed workers who gave up looking for work, which could drive the unemployment rate higher were they still searching. Almost two years ago, Obama used a rising unemployment rate to make the case for more job growth.
“I should also note that the unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 9.7 to 9.9 [percent],” Obama said, according to the official White House transcript on May 7, 2010. “Given the strength of these job numbers, this may seem contradictory, but this increase is largely a reflection of the fact that workers who had dropped out of the workforce entirely are now seeing jobs again and – are now seeking jobs again, encouraged by better prospects.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the report is more evidence Obama’s policies aren’t working.
“The wages of those fortunate enough to have a job are stagnant, but they’re paying more for everything from gasoline to groceries,” Boehner said in a statement Friday.
“And those looking for work can’t find it because Obamacare, our spending-driven debt, and the threat of tax hikes are making it harder for small businesses to hire,” Boehner continued. “Nearly half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed in President Obama’s economy.
“But rather than address these challenges, President Obama has wasted time trying to distract the American people with gimmicks like the Buffett tax hike and fake fights over noncontroversial issues. Election-year gimmicks might win the president some votes but they won’t create American jobs,” he said.