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Obama Enters 2012 Race on Good News About Jobs

President Obama speaking late Thursday about budget negotiations. This week he also launched his presidential campaign for 2012.
President Obama speaking late Thursday about budget negotiations. This week he also launched his presidential campaign for 2012.

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Most of the news in Washington this week was about the budget talks to prevent a shutdown of many government services at midnight Friday. But this week, President Obama also announced his plans to seek re-election in November of next year.

In an e-mail to supporters, Mr. Obama said "the race may not reach full speed for a year or more." But he said the work of building the campaign "must start today."

Some of that work will depend on how many jobs are created in the months ahead. Mr. Obama welcomed last Friday's report that the United States economy added two hundred sixteen thousand jobs in March. The unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of one percent for the second straight month.

The Labor Department says unemployment is now 8.8 percent, the lowest in two years. And some economists say this spring may be the start of better news to come. Consumer spending has increased eight months in a row.

Stephen Hess is a political scientist who studies the presidency at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

STEPHEN HESS: "The next election will, more than anything else, depend on employment in the United States."

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called attention to the fact that the economy has added jobs for twelve months in a row.

HILDA SOLIS: "We need to be reminded that we've added jobs -- 1.5 million private sector jobs, and that, I think, it’s right where we need to be. But we need to continue to not lose sight of where we need to go to increase opportunities for people to get employed in new jobs."

This week, President Obama filled a top job in his party. He chose Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida to head the Democratic National Committee. She replaces Tim Kaine who plans to run for the Senate from Virginia next year.

Among Republicans, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty recently formed a committee to explore a presidential campaign. Several other Republicans are also considering races for their party's nomination.

The latest jobs report showed that thirteen and a half million Americans remained unemployed in March. Another concern is that oil prices remain over one hundred dollars a barrel. High energy prices could threaten the recovery from the recession.

This week, Portugal became the latest member of the European Union with heavy debts to request emergency loans. Opposition parties refused to accept budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Jose Socrates two weeks ago.

Portugal's borrowing costs rose sharply Wednesday as it sold almost one and a half billion dollars in short-term securities. Portugal may seek more than one hundred billion dollars in loans, joining Greece and Ireland in receiving aid.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Doug Johnson.


Contributing: Mil Arcega, Jim Malone, Carolyn Presutti and Mario Ritter