WASHINGTON (BY JULIE PACE, AP) - A day after consumer concerns about the economy sent stocks sliding, President Barack Obama is trying to assure the American people that the economic recovery is headed in the right direction.
Obama is visiting Wisconsin on Wednesday to speak about the economy in Racine before taking questions in a town hall meeting.
The president is facing a public that is pessimistic about the economy. The latest Consumer Confidence Index, released Tuesday, showed its biggest drop since February and indicated Americans aren't in the mood to spend. Those factors are worrying businesses and investors: The Dow Jones industrial average closed down nearly 270 points Tuesday.
he dip in consumer confidence underscored a key concern for the Obama administration: While there are signs the economy is recovering, that recovery isn't reaching many Americans quickly enough. Unemployment is expected to remain around 10 percent through the end of the year, and some economists believe the jobs report due out Friday will show the economy has lost more jobs, a bleak forecast following five months of job growth.
Following a meeting of his economic advisers Tuesday, Obama acknowledged the economy still faces an uncertain future.
"We're now seeing some headwinds and some skittishness and nervousness on the part of the market and on the part of business and investors," he said. "We've still got a lot of work to do."
In the midst of two wars and one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation's history, Obama's challenge has been keeping his administration's work on the economy in the spotlight. That challenge could only increase as the administration moves forward on other domestic policy priorities, such as clean energy legislation and immigration reform.
In Racine, on Lake Michigan south of Milwaukee, the work that still needs doing is on graphic display. The city's jobless rate was 14.2 percent last month, in part because of an exodus of manufacturing jobs. Chrysler is closing its engine plant in nearby Kenosha and General Motors shut down its plant in Janesville, about an hour to the west.
Mayor John Dickert maintains Racine is rebounding, and praises Obama's stimulus plan. "We've taken every dollar he's given us and multiplied it by three to five times," Dickert said.
But Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said Racine just shows the Obama plan's failure to stop job cuts. "He's going to be met with despair and disgust," Priebus said.