President Obama told reporters that "the private sector is doing fine," as he attributed the high unemployment rate to a lack of government jobs.
"Overall, the private sector has been doing a good job creating jobs," Obama told reporters this morning. "The big challenge we have in our economy right now is state and local government hiring has been going in the wrong direction," he explained, citing for Congress to avert the layoffs of police, firefighters, and other public employees that have taken place at the state level.
Obama said that "the other sector that's still weak has been the construction industry," but noted that "those two areas we've directly addressed in our jobs program," citing his call for Congress to roll back the police and firefighter layoffs and the state level and to pass legislation that would increase infrastructure spending.
Congress, Obama said, kept the unemployment rate high by opposing the majority of his $450 billion stimulus bill last fall. "If Congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more Americans working this year. The unemployment rate would be lower; the economy would be stronger," he said.