President Barack Obama asked Congress Thursday to act on a new round of jobs legislation, saying that "fancy formulas and mathematical equations" from economists mask the continuing pain in American households.
"It's great that the stock market has bounced back," Obama said during a three-hour stop in western New York, a region already in decline long before the economic downturn. "But if you're still looking for a job, it's still a recession. If you can't pay your bills or your mortgage, it's still a recession. No matter what the economists say, it's not a real recovery until people can feel it in their own lives."
Citing last week's economic reports showing job growth in the U.S. for the fourth straight month, the president argued that his efforts to rescue the economy are working. He focused on his administration's efforts to help small businesses.
But given an unemployment rate that continues to hover near 10 percent, Obama urged Congress to act quickly on new job creation measures that could further strengthen small businesses.
Obama began his White House to Main Street tour in December with a trip to Allentown, Pa. He has also made stops in Charlotte, N.C., Savannah, Ga., and Quincy, Ill. In Buffalo, he toured Industrial Support Inc., a growing manufacturing company, talked to employees after opening remarks and a question-and-answer session.
The president has said the success of small businesses will be vital to the nation's economic recovery. Last week, the president sent Congress a proposal to create a $30 billion support program to unfreeze credit for small businesses. The health care overhaul he signed into law in March also included tax credits for small businesses, and the president has said those already are reaching some companies.
Help for small businesses would be especially welcome in cities like Buffalo, where large corporations have downsized and manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas. Western New York long has suffered from a lack of job growth and population losses. Two New York state residents who've started a website to draw attention to unemployment and other problems they blame on Washington put up a billboard along Interstate 190 that reads: "Dear Mr. President. I need a freakin job. Period."
Nearly 60 percent of registered voters in upstate New York say the state's economy is getting worse, according to a poll conducted this month by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. Just 11 percent believe the state's economy is improving.
Obama also met briefly with several people who lost family members in a 2009 plane crash in a Buffalo suburb. The families have been pushing for changes in aviation safety regulations in the wake of the crash, which killed 50, and Obama told them during the 10-minute private talk their advocacy will help the cause move forward.
From Buffalo, Obama was to travel to New York City to attend a Democratic congressional fundraiser before returning to Washington late Thursday.