Obama's Job Summit Part of Larger Effort

The White House hopes to demonstrate that the president understands the problems of the unemployed.

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A White House "jobs summit" planned for next month is part of a larger effort to demonstrate that President Obama understands the problems of the unemployed and is doing all he can to create jobs as one of his top priorities—even though the results have been poor so far.

The summit, announced by Obama yesterday for a yet-to-be-determined date in December, is designed to bring together economic specialists from big and small business, labor, academia, nonprofit groups, and government. The unemployment rate climbed to 10.2 percent in October, up from 9.8 percent in September and the highest in more than two decades, and it appears to be undermining faith in the president's economic policies, according the public-opinion polls.

White House strategists say it's crucial to show Americans that the president cares about their plight and is searching for innovative solutions. A senior Obama adviser told U.S. News, "We're looking for ideas," including ideas from outside government. "This is a natural step in that process."

Preliminary reactions have been positive. Brian Gunderson, an executive with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said he was "delighted" about the forum, which Obama will host.

The Obama adviser says that Obama's economic stimulus package has created or saved a million jobs out of 7 million lost since the fall of 2007—a number contested by Obama's critics—but she adds that the stimulus "was never meant to be the only tool in the toolbox." She pointed out that the president recently signed legislation to extend unemployment benefits and continue tax credits for home buyers. U.S. officials say job creation will be a major focus of Obama's current trip to Asia.