Obama Vows Stimulus Plans Will Create Millions of Jobs

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McClatchy Newspapers

Obama Vows Stimulus Plans Will Create Millions of Jobs

by
Jack Chang

A woman looks at a job listing board in Oakland, California. Barack Obama's advisers said Saturday his economic stimulus plan will "save or create three to four million jobs" as the president-elect sought to stem criticism of the 775-billion-dollar plan designed to revive the troubled economy. (AFP/Getty Images/File/Justin Sullivan)

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama projected
Saturday that his yet-to-be-written economic stimulus plan would create
nearly 3.7 million jobs by the end of next year, mainly in
construction, leisure services and manufacturing.

But the
projected $775 billion plan won't stop the nation's unemployment rate
from reaching about 8 percent by the end of this year, an analysis of
the plan says, and will only have brought joblessness back to current
levels by the end of 2010.

Obama's
release of the study based only a rough draft of his stimulus plan
indicated he wants to get ahead of dismal economic news, economists
said.

The
latest hit came Friday, when Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers showed
another 524,000 U.S. jobs vanished in December, lifting the national
unemployment rate to 7.2 percent, its highest level in 16 years.

"This
is a very honest picture of what a stimulus package would do, but it's
still not a very good story," said Dean Baker, co-director of the
liberal think tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "It's
saying we're in for some difficult times."

The 14-page report
warned the projections were subject to "significant margins of error"
and were based on a "hypothetical package" of measures that must still
undergo Congressional scrutiny.

That didn't stop Obama from promising massive job creation in his Saturday address.

"The
jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide
range of industries," the president-elect said. "And they'll be the
kind of jobs that don't just put people to work in the short term, but
position our economy to lead the world in the long-term."

The
Obama plan promises to invest heavily in infrastructure, education,
health and energy; send needed fiscal relief to states; increase
unemployment insurance and food stamp funding; and cut middle-class
taxes.

The projections show the plan creating 678,000 jobs in
construction, 499,000 in leisure and hospitality and 408,000 in
manufacturing. The plan would also lower the national unemployment rate
by 1.8 percentage points by the end of next year, the analysis said.

Those
job fields are the same ones that showed the biggest cuts in Friday's
unemployment report, with about 1 million jobs disappearing in the
construction and manufacturing sectors between Dec. 2007 and last month.

The
labor report also calculated a whopping 15.3 percent unemployment rate
in construction and a 17 percent unemployment rate in agriculture and
related fields.

How the analysis reached its conclusions was
uncertain since Obama himself has acknowledged that there is no
finished proposal. Speaking at a Friday press conference, Obama said he
would work closely with the Democratic-controlled Congress to hammer
out the details of his stimulus plan, which remains little more than
broad principles.

"If members of Congress have good ideas, if
they can identify a project for me that will create jobs in an
efficient way, that does not hamper our ability to, over the long term,
get control of our deficit, that is good for the economy, then I'm
going accept it," Obama said.

Baker said the stimulus plan will
need to be much bigger if it's going to make an impact. He suggested
offering employers more tax breaks for providing health insurance to
workers and increasing subsidies to public transportation.

Baker
also urged the Congress and Obama to work more quickly to pass the
stimulus plan. Some Democratic legislators have warned that work on the
plan could stretch on for weeks.

"Timing here is very important
because every day we wait we'll lose more jobs," Baker said. "I'd like
to see all of them be more ambitious."

McClatchy correspondent Steven Thomma contributed to this report.

Watch Obama's address

Read the analysis

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