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Obama: Economy Still Headed Right Direction

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ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AP) President Barack Obama on Friday cast the state of the economy in upbeat terms, declaring that it was headed in the right direction even as employers slashed payrolls last month for the first time in half a year. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent.

"To every American who is looking for work, I promise you we're going to keep on doing everything that we can," Obama said. "I will do everything in my power to help our economy create jobs and opportunities for all people."

To that end, Obama announced the latest burst of taxpayer-financed stimulus spending, a nationwide project to expand broadband access in places with little or no reliable Internet service. The president said it would create 5,000 construction jobs in the short term and ultimately benefit "tens of millions" of people.

Overall, the president said the economy is on the right path. "We're not headed there fast enough for a lot of Americans," Obama said. "We're not headed there fast enough for me, either."

The new report out Friday suggests businesses are still slow to hire amid a weak economic recovery. The net job loss was driven by the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs; private sector hiring was up a modest amount. Obama emphasized that point, saying private hiring was up for the sixth straight month.

The overall civilian unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since July 2009, but the rate actually looked better than it was. The rate dropped in large measure because some 652,000 people gave up on their job searches and left the labor force, and thus were no longer counted as unemployed.

The president sought to put the report in perspective, comparing June's more moderate numbers to the staggering pace of monthly job losses that were occurring as he took office.

All told, 14.6 million people were looking for work in June.

Obama spoke right before flying to West Virginia for a memorial service for Sen. Robert Byrd.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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