White House says jobs could be worse

People wait in line at a job fair sponsored by Monster.com in New York City that attracted hundreds of job seekers.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: Well the Obama Administration released its latest progress report on the $787 billion economic stimulus package today. The message? We'd be in a much bigger mess without it. Marketplace's Sam Eaton is with us live in our Los Angeles studio with more. Good morning, Sam.

Sam Eaton: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So what's the White House reporting here?

Eaton: Well basically it's saying that the overall economy and employment are responding to all that stimulus money despite that nagging double-digit unemployment we're seeing. The report says that in the fourth quarter, the stimulus plan's tax cuts and spending added about 2 percentage points to the Gross Domestic Product. And looking at all of 2009, it had an even bigger effect on jobs. Here's Christina Romer, the head of Obama's Economic Advisors:

Christina Romer: What our estimates are suggesting is in the absence of the recovery act, we would at this point in time be 2 million jobs lower than we are now.

So what she's saying is yes, unemployment figures are still bad, but they'd be a lot worse without all the stimulus.

Chiotakis: All right, so what's the projection, Sam, going forward? I mean will the stimulus continue to help job growth or do you think it's run its course?

Eaton: Well, Romer says she expects continued job creation going into the spring, potentially adding a total of 3.5 million jobs by the end of this year. But she did stress the need for additional action. For example, the House last month approved another $155 billion jobs package. And the Senate is expected to take up its own version of jobs legislation in the coming weeks. A main focus of that legislation is about creating these so-called green jobs -- things like putting construction workers back to work weatherizing homes. But no matter what the color, any jobs are needed, consider the economy continues to shed them at a higher than expected rate.

Chiotakis: All right, Marketplace's Sam Eaton with us in our studio. Sam, thanks.

Eaton: Thanks.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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