President Obama: Expect Job Losses Even After Recovery Kicks In

ABC News | March 26, 2009
By Jake Tapper

At his virtual town hall meeting this afternoon, President Obama warned Americans that they should expect job losses to continue even after the economy has started to recover.

"We're going to have to be patient and persistent about job creation because I don't think that we've lost all the jobs we're going to lose in this recession.  We're still going to be in a difficult time for much of this year.  Employment is typically what's called a lagging indicator."

The president said he doesn't want people to think that in one or two months suddenly we're going to see net job increases.  It's going to take some time for the steps that we've taken to filter in."

The president pointed out that the moderator of the town hall, Dr. Jared Bernstein, the chief economic adviser for Vice President Joe Biden, is a Ph.D. economist who would correct him if he were wrong.

Bernstein, of course, agreed with the president.

"After the last recession ended in 2001, the unemployment rate went up for another 19 months before it started coming back down," Bernstein said.

The president's warning came in response to a video question submitted to the White House website from a woman named Harriet in Georgia.

"Hello, President Obama," she said. "Here is my question for your online town meeting.  When can we expect that jobs that have been outsourced to other countries to come back and be made available to the unemployed workers here in the United States?  Thank you so much for all your hard work.  God bless you.  Bye-bye."

The president discussed how a great deal of outsourcing was of "low-wage, low-skill labor." 

The challenge is to create "new jobs that can't be outsourced," he said.

"It's very hard to hang on to those jobs because there's always a country out there that pays lower wages than the U.S," the president said. "And so we've got to go after the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future.  That's why it's so important to train our folks more effectively and that's why it's so important for us to find new industries -- building solar panels or wind turbines or the new biofuel -- that involve these higher-value, higher-skill, higher-paying jobs. So I guess the answer to the question is, not all of these jobs are going to come back.  And it probably wouldn't be good for our economy for a bunch of these jobs to come back because, frankly, there's no way that people could be getting paid a living wage on some of these jobs -- at least in order to be competitive in an international setting."