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Pace of economic downturn has diminished: White House

By Lalit K Jha in Washington
June 09, 2009 12:40 IST
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The pace of economic downturn has diminished as a result of the steps taken by the Obama administration, including those under mega stimulus package, the White House said on Tuesday.

"While there are some hopeful signs that the pace of the downturn has diminished, the nation's economy has yet to recover," Jared Bernstein, chief economist of the vice president Joe Biden, told reporters.

Earlier in the day US President Barack Obama had acknowledged that while the country remain in the midst of a deep recession, "It is a sign that we are moving in the right direction".

"The key is for us to build on the modest progress that has been made in the months to come," Obama said, referring to the latest unemployment figures, according to which, an additional 345,000 jobs were lost in May.

"That was far less than (what) was expected, but it's still too many. That means there are families who are still losing not only their jobs, but maybe losing their homes, finding themselves under extraordinary financial straits.

"And it's a reminder that we're still in the middle of a very deep recession that was years in the making and it's going to take a considerable amount of time for us to pull out of," Obama said. The President told his cabinet members that there are some good news coming up with regard to the recovery.

"Having said that, I am not satisfied". When the private sector economy is under-performing, there's a critical role for the government to play in temporarily picking up the slack. The Recovery Act does that through a uniquely broad set of provisions designed to create or save millions of jobs over the life of the bill, Bernstein argued.

In the first 100 days, the recovery act created or saved 150,000 jobs, while the figure would increase to 600,000 in the next 100 days, he said, referring to the series of announcements made by the Vice President earlier in the day at a Cabinet meeting.

"It is important to remember while the Recovery Act is an integral part of our plan -- one that spurs new demand and puts people back to work during these hardest hit times -- it is but one part of our plan. It's one pillar," Bernstein said.

"The financial stabilisation plan, the housing plan, financial regulatory reform, a budget that makes historical investments in energy, health care and education, while cutting the deficit in half over our first term, remain other central pillars of our economic plan," he explained.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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