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White House: Stimulus saved 3 million jobs

President Barack Obama's economic policies have significantly boosted U.S. growth and hiring this year, the White House said on Wednesday.
/ Source: Reuters

President Barack Obama's economic policies have significantly boosted U.S. growth and hiring this year, the White House said on Wednesday as it seeks to counter sagging confidence in his economic leadership.

A quarterly White House report estimated Obama's $862 billion economic stimulus package, which he signed last year, has so far lifted employment by between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs, while giving growth a big boost.

"The impact of the fiscal stimulus suggest that the (Recovery Act) has raised the level of GDP as of the second quarter of 2010, relative to what it otherwise would have been, by between 2.7 and 3.2 percent," the report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said.

"Real GDP growth is expected to remain steady in the second half of 2010 and throughout 2011."

The first official estimate for second quarter growth is released on July 30.

Growth in the first quarter was 2.7 percent, continuing a gradual recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s, which has yet to dramatically cut a painfully high unemployment rate that stood at 9.5 percent in June.

Vice President Joseph Biden said the economy "would be barely growing at all" without the emergency spending.

Biden and CEA Chairwoman Christina Romer presented the report's findings and Romer is scheduled to testify in Congress on it at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.

Separately, Obama said Wednesday he is enlisting the help of predecessor Bill Clinton to lift sagging confidence in his economic stewardship.

In another sign the recovery has slowed recently, sales at U.S. retailers fell for a second straight month in June due to weak receipts at car dealers and gas stations.

The report comes a day after a pair of opinion polls raised red flags for Obama and his Democrats, who appear vulnerable four months before congressional elections in November. Republicans are seeking to overturn Democratic dominance in both houses of Congress.

A survey by the Washington Post-ABC News showed 54 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama's leadership on the economy. In a CBS News poll, only 40 percent of Americans said they approved of Obama's handling of the economy.

On Wednesday, one of the most influential U.S. business groups accused Obama of neglecting job creation and sowing economic uncertainty with burdensome tax and regulatory policies.

In an open letter to the president, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Obama and Democrats in Congress "took their eyes off the ball" on the goal of creating jobs.

"They neglected America's number one priority — creating the more than 20 million jobs we need over the next 10 years," said the letter, which the Chamber released ahead of a "Jobs for America" event that will bring together officials from the group as well as lawmakers and other policymakers.