- Associated Press - Friday, June 18, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Obama focused attention Friday on construction jobs created by the federal stimulus law while acknowledging the grinding toll the slow-to-rebound economy has taken.

“I’m under no illusion that we’re where we need to be yet,” Mr. Obama said during an hourlong visit to the capital of a state he won in 2008 with 51 percent of the vote.

The event was a groundbreaking for the 10,000th road project paid for by stimulus money, and it gave the president an occasion to leave Washington and promote progress on jobs.

Flanked by workers in hard hats and yellow safety vests, Mr. Obama stood at a lectern in the middle of a street and cited increasing signs of economic vitality, including evidence that businesses are starting to hire again. But he said that’s not enough.

“There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can’t find work. Many more can’t make ends meet,” Mr. Obama said. “And for these folks, the only jobs we create that matter are the ones that provide for their families. So while the recovery may start with projects like this, it can’t end here.”

In his brief comments, Mr. Obama offered no new initiatives or messages.

The recession hit hard in Ohio, where unemployment hit 11 percent in March, the highest since September 1983. New figures Friday showed the rate dipped to 10.7 percent in May.

The president has made a practice of quick trips out of Washington to explain to workers that the economy is reviving. Even as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill sucks up much of Obama’s time, he doesn’t want to lose that focus on the economy, the public’s No. 1 priority.

He visited a hospital where a $25 million project will add lanes and widen sidewalks. It is expected to create 300 jobs, but Mr. Obama said that the indirect effects were even greater, leading to investments by the hospital back into the community.

A growing number of independent economic analysis suggests the $862 billion stimulus law has boosted jobs and kept people off the unemployment line, though exactly how many jobs is a matter of dispute.



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