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The White House

Remarks By The Vice President on Today's Unemployment Numbers

Office of the Vice President
Immediate Release                                                October 2, 2009

Roosevelt Room

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  We’re here this morning in the Roosevelt Room to talk about a Middle Class Task Force meeting and discuss our fall plans.  And the Middle Class Task Force, as we've said before, was designed to make sure that everyone who aspires to the middle class has a chance of getting there and staying there.
Our ultimate goal here is what we set out in day one, that is that the middle class -- the measure of our success at the end of this four years is the middle class growing.  And while we worked hard toward that goal, today we learned we still have a whole lot more work to do, and a long way to go before we get there. 
We just learned that unemployment fell by 263,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of 1 percent.  And now -- now it's true that this reflects an improvement of overall things based on the results of our policy.  The first quarter of this year, we were losing jobs at an average of 700,000 jobs per month, month after month.  In the quarter that ended this week, the loss was 250,000 jobs per month, two-thirds less.
But we also have known all along that the recovery was going to take a long time.  We inherited an awful lot of baggage, and we knew that it would come -- recovery would come in fits and starts, and that job creation would be the last element to come into place.  Those were the realities we inherited.  Those are the realities we know.  And those are the realities we acknowledge.
But those facts and those realities aren't good enough for President Obama, and they aren't good enough for me.  We don't think that "less bad" is good.  "Less bad" is not our measure of success.  One job lost is one job too many, and it's still too much pain.  There's still too many hard-working Americans without a paycheck, still too many families struggling to get by. 
And while the fears of a depression have been replaced by forecasts of recovery, the kind of recovery the President and I are working to create will not have been achieved -- and as Christy was saying a moment ago -- until we're standing here and announcing substantial positive numbers, a positive growth rate in jobs.  That's why the Recovery Act, which by some estimates has already saved and created a million jobs, is such a vital part of that economic plan, combined with our financial rescue plan, housing plan, a small business plan and all the other efforts. 
We are working hard on every front to turn this economy around.  And as bad as things are, they would be far worse without the recovery plan, or these other efforts.  That's why we've worked hard to accelerate the recovery spending, getting money out the door on schedule; and that's why we announced yesterday nine ambitious goals for the Recovery Act to perform between now and December 31st.    
Today's tough news is a reminder though that -- as if anybody would need it -- how critical this work is in making the Recovery Act work and why.  As I told the Cabinet assembled yesterday, those efforts need to be redoubled in the weeks ahead.  Let me be clear about one thing:  Today's bad news does not change my confidence in the fact that we are going to recover.  We will be producing jobs.  The American economy and the job engine is going to be created and moving once again. 
And I believe we're doing the right things to move things in the right direction.  And the determination and creativity of the American people, combined with our determination to stay the course on this recovery, are what is going to produce the ultimate result of a thrilling, vibrant economy, which brings me to the meeting that we're having today.
We're working with the task force to lay a new foundation for economic growth, a future predicated on good education, high-quality health care, and clean energy innovation; and that future that doesn't leave the middle class behind.  And we're up against -- we are committed, as we go through, there will be peaks and valleys in this process.  This is not a straight line to recovery, but we are recovering.  We will recover.  And we're determined that when we do, the middle class is in a better position coming out of this than when it went into this Great Recession.
So I thank you all very much for taking the time to come in, and we're going to get about our work here.  Thank you.
Q    Sir, what's the thinking on a second stimulus package?
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We're working on finishing the first one here, let's -- and doing it right.  Thank you.