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Obama talks of jobs plan in weekly address

/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.S. is emerging from an "economic storm," President Barack Obama says, pledging new ways to put people back on the payroll after a painful recession.

Readying a job creation proposal he plans to send to Congress in the coming week, the president said in his radio and Internet address Saturday that he's focused on building an economy "that continues to make real the promise of America for generations to come."

In a Washington speech Tuesday, Obama is likely to endorse expanding a program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, according to administration officials.

Obama also is leaning toward new incentives for small businesses that hire new workers and toward new spending for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the package and Obama's speech are still being developed.

The president also is open to federal help for state and local governments.

"So that we don't face another crisis like this again, I'm determined to meet our responsibility to do what we know will strengthen our economy in the long run," Obama said in his address.

Obama said he has no intention of backing off his administration's efforts to overhaul health care, improve education, invest in a clean energy economy and deal with mounting federal debts.

But he acknowledged the pain felt by millions of the unemployed.

Job losses in the U.S. have been the worst since the 1930s, but new statistics out Friday showed a relatively moderate loss of 11,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dipped from 10.2 percent in October to 10 percent in November.

Referring to his upcoming jobs plan, Obama spoke of "ideas aimed at accelerating job growth and hiring as we emerge from this economic storm."

Obama has faced criticism for tackling various problems simultaneously while the unemployment rate has been growing. He said the economy is turning around, even if slowly.

Americans "are in a very different place than we were when 2009 began," Obama said. He cited economic recovery efforts as part of the reason "we're no longer facing the potential collapse of our financial system or a second Great Depression. We're no longer losing jobs at a rate of 700,000 a month. And our economy's growing for the first time in a year."

"But for those who were laid off last month and the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession, a good trend isn't good enough," he said.

Rising anger over joblessness threatens the president's agenda. Obama held a jobs forum at the White House on Thursday, made a trip Friday to visit business owners, workers and the unemployed in Allentown, Pa., and set the jobs-bill speech. The president must connect with voters to boost the chances of his legislative efforts and for Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and his own in 2012.

"The folks who have been looking for work without any luck for months and, in some cases, years, can't wait any longer," he said. "For them, I'm determined to do everything I can to accelerate our progress so we're actually adding jobs again."

While pledging to work hard on creating more jobs, Obama said he plans to continue his efforts to deal with the country's pressing long-term problems.

"I didn't run for president to pass emergency recovery programs or to bail out banks or to shore up auto companies," he said. "I didn't run for president simply to manage the crisis of the moment while kicking our most pressing problems down the road."