WASHINGTON, Sep 13 – President Barack Obama\’s new top economist said Sunday he expects the US unemployment rate, which has edged up to 9.6 percent, to remain high for some time.
The US economy lost 54,000 jobs last month, but incoming chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee, declined to predict where the jobless rate might stand at the end of this year.
"I don\’t think the unemployment rate will be coming down significantly in the near future," he told "Fox News Sunday."
"I think it\’s clear that the labor market is significantly weakened and has been for some time. We have to do everything we can to try to create jobs."
The slow pace of economic recovery prompted President Barack Obama to outline a new package of stimulus measures earlier this week — including 50 billion dollars for infrastructure projects — to revive small business and tackle unemployment.
Republicans want all the tax cuts passed by former president George W. Bush to be renewed before they expire at the end of this year, arguing Obama will slow growth by hiking taxes on the rich.
Sounding a conciliatory note, House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner said he would be willing to vote for a bill that would only extend tax cuts for Americans earning less than 250,000 dollars a year, a proposal Obama has suggested.
"If the only option I have is to vote for some of those tax reductions, I\’ll vote for it," Boehner told CBS television\’s "Face the Nation."
"If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I\’m going to do that. But I\’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement later Sunday that sounded a wary welcome to the Republican\’s compromise offer.
"We welcome John Boehner\’s change in position and support for the middle class tax cuts, but time will tell if his actions will be anything but continued support for the failed policies that got us into this mess," Gibbs wrote.
Goolsbee also welcomed the compromise.
Speaking on ABC television\’s "This Week," he acknowledged unemployment would "stay high" and hinted that the road to recovery would be a long one.
"This recession is the deepest in our lifetimes, the deepest since 1929. If you take the people thrown out of work in the 1982 recession, the 1991 recession, the 2001 recession, not only is this bigger, this is bigger than all of those combined," he said.
"So more than eight million people lost their jobs. It\’s going to take a significant push on our part and time before that comes down. I don\’t anticipate it coming down rapidly."
On Friday, Obama named Goolsbee to replace Christina Romer, who left last week to return to the academic world.