WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday sought the public's patience with a slowing economy and said training workers for manufacturing jobs despite declines in that sector will help put the economy on a path toward growth. He said the recession didn't happen overnight and won't end that way, either.
"It's going to take time," Obama said in his weekly radio and online address.
Recent polling shows broad disapproval with Obama's handling of the economy, which is becoming the central issue in next year's presidential election. Such disapproval hit a record 59 percent in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Job growth slowed sharply in May and unemployment inched up to 9.1 percent, according to economic indicators that also showed manufacturers cutting 5,000 jobs last month. Those were the first job losses in that sector in seven months.
No president since World War II has won a second term with a jobless rate above 7.2 percent, and Obama's options for sparking faster economic growth before the November 2012 election appear limited.
On Monday, Obama was to head to Durham, N.C., for a brainstorming session with his jobs council on steps Washington can take to encourage private-sector hiring. Council members and senior administration officials also were to hold "listening and action sessions" with businesses in the Raleigh-Durham area to get their input.
Last Wednesday, Obama announced an effort by the private sector, colleges and the National Association of Manufacturers to help half a million community college students become trained and certified for manufacturing jobs. They would get a credential guaranteeing that they are skilled.
"If you're a company that's hiring, you'll know that anyone who has this degree has the skills you're looking for," the president said Saturday. "If you're a student considering community college, you'll know that your diploma will give you a leg up in the job market."
Obama said other steps, such as providing students with a quality education and investing in new jobs in the clean energy sector, will also help the economy grow.
In the weekly Republican message, also on jobs, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., recalled the administration's promise that unemployment would go no higher than 8 percent after Obama pumped billions of dollars into the economy soon after taking office to stimulate it.
Kinzinger said the "road to refueling our economy and creating jobs" includes tackling government debt, simplifying the tax code, limiting regulations, passing free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and boosting domestic energy production.
"These are some of the steps we need to take to get government out of the way and let our economy grow and get back to producing jobs," he said.
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