WASHINGTON — In his latest job creation effort, President Barack Obama is trying to find practical and politically feasible ways of spurring hiring among skittish employers.
Among the ideas expected in his economic speech Tuesday is an expanded program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, senior administration officials have told The Associated Press. Obama is leaning toward new incentives for small businesses that hire new workers and new spending on roads, bridges and other public works, the officials said.
The president also is open to a federal infusion of money to cash-strapped state and local governments, considered among the quickest and most effective – though expensive – ways to stem layoffs.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the package and Obama's speech were being developed. The officials emphasized that Obama probably won't mention in his speech every job idea he will eventually support, and that his address is meant only as one step in a debate that's sure to keep going.
Obama said in his Saturday radio and Internet address that the country is emerging from an "economic storm" and that he's working to put people back on the payroll after a painful recession.
Two years of drastic job cuts all but ended in November, according to the latest figures, and the jobless rate inched down to 10 percent. Putting that in perspective, he said in the address, "For those who were laid off last month and the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession, a good trend isn't good enough."
The White House is not yet commenting publicly on the details of Obama's speech.
Job losses in the U.S. have been the worst since the 1930s, but new statistics out Friday showed a relatively moderate loss of 11,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dipped from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent in November, but remains at a troubling double-digit level.
Rising frustration over joblessness threatens the president's agenda. The president must connect with voters to boost the chances of his legislative efforts and for Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and his own in 2012.
Obama held a jobs forum at the White House on Thursday, made a trip Friday to visit business owners, workers and the unemployed in Allentown, Pa., and set the jobs-bill speech for Tuesday at Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
"History tells us this is usually what happens with recessions – even as the economy grows, it takes time for jobs to follow," Obama said in the weekend address. "But the folks who have been looking for work without any luck for months and, in some cases, years, can't wait any longer."
Obama said he has no intention of backing off his administration's efforts to overhaul health care, improve education, invest in a clean energy economy and deal with mounting federal debts. All, he said, are vital to strengthening the economy long term.
"I didn't run for president simply to manage the crisis of the moment while kicking our most pressing problems down the road," he said.
On the Net:
Obama address: http://www.whitehouse.gov