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Obama talks jobs, energy in VA

From NBC's Athena Jones
ARLINGTON, Va. -- President Obama used a trip to a company that promotes energy savings to tout his proposals to boost job creation and accelerate the country's recovery from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

His remarks came on the same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent during the month of February, a sign that job growth remains flat. Even so, the 36,000 jobs lost during the month was less than the 50,000 many analysts had forecast. Administration officials had suggested the economy could lose as much as 200,000 jobs during the month as a consequence of severe winter storms.

"It shows that the measures that we're taking to turn our economy around are having some impact," he said. "But even though it's better than expected, it's more than we should tolerate. Far too many Americans remain out of work. Far too many families are still struggling in these difficult economic times and that's why I'm not going to rest, and my administration is not going to rest, in our efforts to help people who are looking to find a job; to help business owners who want to expand feel comfortable hiring again."

The administration has sought to show it is focused on jobs by proposing a series of measures to jump-start hiring, including a bill that would give businesses that hire workers a tax credit. The House passed that legislation yesterday, but it will have to go back to the Senate, because members made changes to it to gain votes.

At OPOWER today, the president hailed the passage earlier this week of a bill extending unemployment and health care benefits after the Republican senator who had held up a vote on the measure finally relented. Still, he noted the extension would only last for about a month and called on Congress to extend this relief through the end of the year.

He also touched on one of his favorite agenda items, clean energy, touting a program designed to create jobs by providing rebates to homeowners who retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient.

"Think about the way that the rebates we're talking about could help spur private sector job growth," Obama said, explaining that local contractors hired to upgrade homes would benefit, leading to a ripple effect. "These companies then, in turn, have to purchase supplies and that creates business for retailers. These retailers would need to restock their shelves, and that creates business for manufacturers. And almost all the goods that are required to make homes more energy efficient are actually produced right here in the United States of America."