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Obama urges Congress to help US economy

Published on Oct 6, 2012 11:23 AM

US President Barack Obama urged Congress Saturday to adopt a series of measures that he said would help working Americans as he hailed new unemployment numbers as evidence that America is "moving forward again".

"Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we're seeing signs that, as a nation, we're moving forward again," the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"More Americans are entering the workforce. More Americans are getting jobs," the president added.

The comments came after the Labor Department reported Friday the creation of 114,000 jobs, an achievement that brought the nation's unemployment rate down from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, the lowest level since Obama took office in January 2009.

The new figures challenged critics, including Republican rival Mitt Romney, who said Obama could not make good on his pledge to bring unemployment below 8.0 percent by the end of his first four-year term in office.

It was also lower than forecasts for this year by the Federal Reserve, which embarked on a QE3 stimulus program in September mainly because of the persistence of high joblessness.

Overall, 12.1 million Americans remained officially unemployed, down from 13.9 million in September 2011, when the jobless rate was 9.0 percent.

Another 6.7 million were counted as having given up looking for a job but still wanting one, up from 6.2 million a year earlier.

Obama acknowledged that too many Americans were "still looking for work or struggling to pay the bills" and urged Congress to act to alleviate their plight.

He said lawmakers needed to extend tax cuts adopted under former President George W. Bush for the overwhelming majority of working American that expire at the end of the year.

The president also called for helping responsible homeowners by giving them a chance to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates.

Obama said that Congress needed to pass a plan to create a veterans jobs corps to help returning military veterans find work as police officers, firefighters or park rangers in communities across the country.

"If we're going to keep this economy moving forward, there's no time for political games," the president said. "Even in a political season. Everyone needs to do their part."