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Sperling Says Obama Jobs Plan Can Have ‘Significant’ Impact

Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, said President Barack Obama will propose tax and spending initiatives next week that would have a “significant” impact on growth and creating jobs.

“There’s no question we need stronger jobs growth, stronger growth overall,” Sperling said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

The Labor Department reported today that U.S. employers didn’t add any new jobs to their payrolls in August, suggesting large companies and small businesses are less confident in economic recovery. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists was for a rise of 65,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent, the department said.

The figures raise political pressure on Obama as he prepares to lay out his plan to boost hiring and economic growth in a Sept. 8 address to Congress.

“Nothing’s good in this report,” Gus Faucher, economist and director of Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said in a telephone interview. “It raises the stakes but I’m not sure what the administration can do at this point. I think any full-bore stimulus is dead in the water.”

Obama is leaving Washington this afternoon for the presidential retreat at Camp David. He isn’t scheduled to make any statements before departing. He’s set to view damage from Hurricane Irene in Paterson, New Jersey, on Sept. 4 and speak to workers in Detroit on Sept. 5, the U.S. Labor Day holiday.

Target for Growth

The economy must add at least 130,000 jobs each month to keep up with growth in the adult population, according to Peter Morici, an economics professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in College Park. The economy must add 13.7 million jobs over the next three years, or 381,000 each month, to bring unemployment down to 6 percent, he said in a statement.

The Office of Management and Budget said in an update of its economic forecasts through August that the jobless rate will average 9.1 percent in 2011 and show little change next year with an average of 9 percent. It won’t fall below 6 percent until 2016, the OMB said.

Katharine Abraham, acting chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that while payrolls were flat in August, the economy has added private-sector jobs for 18 straight months, for a total of 2.4 million new jobs.

Faster Growth

“Clearly, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn,” she wrote on the White House blog. The numbers reinforce Obama’s call for an extension of a transportation bill to maintain construction jobs highway, bridge, mass transit and related projects, she said.

Sperling, without giving details, said that if Obama’s proposals pass in Congress they would have a “significant impact on both job growth and overall growth over the next 16 months.”

The president will propose initiatives he’s been highlighting over the past several months, including extending a temporary payroll tax cut for workers and more infrastructure spending, and he’s considering new ideas such as a cut in the employer portion of the payroll tax and a job-training program.

Mix of Proposals

He will propose “a mix of tax, infrastructure and other spending” to boost the economy and create jobs, Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters yesterday in a conference call.

Republicans, who control the House and have enough votes in the Senate to block legislation, have vowed to oppose new spending that would add to the deficit, which the administration has forecast will hit $1.3 trillion this year.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said via Twitter today that U.S. job growth is “still undermined by threat of tax hikes, more spending, excessive regulations.”

Repeating an administration theme, Sperling said the U.S. can’t afford to “allow the normal politics and partisanship” stand in the way of measures to spur the economy.

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