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Claims Fall; When Jobs Will Come is Anyone's Guess

Claims Fall; When Jobs Will Come is Anyone's Guess

(AP Photo/Steven Senne) In this photo made Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009, Linda Cook, of Cranston, R.I. examines job listings at a state managed employment center, in Providence, R.I. Cook, who is unemployed, worked in mortgage sales before being laid off. New c

Christopher S. Rugaber | The Associated Press via YellowBrix

November 13, 2009

The weak job market is ratcheting up the political pressure on Obama administration. The summit was an acknowledgment that unemployment will remain a problem for months to come.

After his remarks, the president left for a trip to Asia, where U.S. and global business prospects will be among the key issues under discussion.

Obama originally had promised the $787 billion stimulus package would create or save 3.5 million jobs. But the administration’s efforts to tally the jobs it attributes to the stimulus — about 640,000 so far — have been bedeviled by reports of double-counting and other errors.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released earlier this week found 46 percent of Americans approve of how Obama has handled the economy, down from 50 percent last month.

With the unemployment rate above 10 percent, congressional Republicans also have pointed to administration officials’ claims earlier this year that the stimulus package would prevent the rate from reaching double digits.

Economists think unemployment will stay above 9 percent through next year’s midterm elections. Exit polls showed The struggling economy was a key issue for most voters in last week’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, both won by Republicans.

Many of the administration’s liberal supporters are calling for more infrastructure spending or public works programs to directly create jobs.

Conservative economists, meanwhile, are pushing for permanent tax cuts. They argue that the uncertainty created by health care reform and other initiatives is discouraging hiring.

Private economists and Federal Reserve officials say the nation could face a “jobless recovery” as the unemployment rate rises despite modest economic growth. Companies may start hiring, but the economy needs roughly 100,000 additional jobs each month to absorb population growth and keep the jobless rate from rising.

The government also said Thursday that the number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits dropped by 139,000 to 5.6 million, also below analysts’ estimates. The figures on continuing claims lag behind the data on initial claims by a week.

Millions of unemployed Americans have used up the regular six months of benefits typically provided by states and are receiving extended benefits for up to almost another year and a half, paid for by the federal government.

Congress extended the program last week for the fourth time since the recession began. About 4 million people were receiving extended jobless benefits in the week that ended Oct. 24. That total was little changed from the previous week.

Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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