WASHINGTON -- Welcoming positive economic news in an election year, President Barack Obama said Friday the new monthly jobs report shows the U.S. economy is starting to rebound, even though some people are still struggling.
The Labor Department report said the economy added 200,000 jobs in December. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent, the lowest in nearly three years.
"We're moving in the right direction," Obama said. "We have made real progress. Now is not the time to stop."
Obama called on congressional Republicans to extend a Social Security payroll tax cut for the remainder of 2012, crediting the cut that has been in place for about a year with helping to boost the recovery.
Obama spoke during a visit to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the agency's newly installed director, Richard Cordray. The president used a controversial recess appointment earlier this week to circumvent Republican opposition in the Senate to put Cordray in the job.
The president pointed out consumer protections the bureau can provide, seeking to personally underscore benefits to voters.
"Every one of you here has a critical role to play in making sure that everybody plays by the same rules," the president told financial protection bureau employees gathered to hear him.
"That's your mission," he said. "To make sure the American people have somebody in their corner."