NEVILLE ISLAND, Pa. -- Faced with rising unemployment nationwide, President Bush vowed Monday to work tirelessly to create jobs and called on Congress to approve legislation that he said would put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work.
"What I worry about is when I hear the stories of people who can't work," Bush said in Labor Day remarks to members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. "And so we've got to make sure that we continue to focus on jobs."
The president also cited a number of positive economic indicators -- "interest rates are low ... inflation is low ... productivity is up" -- and added:
"But I'm not satisfied. And neither should you be. And neither should the United States Congress."
His remarks underscored anew his determination to escape the fate of his father, who waged a popular war to liberate Kuwait only to be turned out of the White House by voters who felt that he had paid insufficient attention to the nation's economy.
For three straight weeks last month, the Labor Department reported that growing numbers of Americans had filed new claims for unemployment insurance -- a trend that surprised many economists.
The number of Americans continuing to collect jobless benefits jumped by 90,000 to 3.6 million for the week ending Aug. 17, the most recent period for which the information is available.
The U.S. unemployment rate -- now at 5.9 percent -- could hit 6.3 percent or 6.5 percent by the fall, some economists fear.
The carpenters union, which sponsored the Labor Day picnic where Bush spoke, quit the AFL-CIO in March 2000 over policy disputes with the strongly pro-Democratic Party international labor federation. The 300,000-member union since has become one of the president's favorite labor organizations.
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