'This Week' Transcript: Austan Goolsbee

BERMAN (voice-over): Just what do they see? The fact that no president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with unemployment higher than 7.2 percent. So what can the president do? He can argue reasonably...

OBAMA: Over the last three months alone, we've added about 750,000 private-sector jobs. Over the last 14 months, we've added more than 2 million private-sector jobs.

BERMAN: His surrogates and supporters can say...

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We continue to be on the right track.

(UNKNOWN): We're headed in the right direction.

BERMAN: But you know what that sounds like?

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: And things are moving forward in this country. The economy is moving forward.

BERMAN: And we know what happened to him, which is why President Obama is always careful not to oversell, trying not to seem out of touch.

OBAMA: You know, it's like, if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a -- by a truck, you know, it's going to take a while for you to mend.

BERMAN: But now it may have to mend on its own, because, practically speaking, there isn't much left the president can do. With the political wars over the debt, there is no chance for another stimulus, no more bank bailouts, there are no federal jobs to offer. And with interest rates at or near zero, the Fed can't do anything to lower them. The president might just have to watch and hope that the American road to recovery is merely a bumpy road and not a road to nowhere.

For "This Week," John Berman, ABC News, Stratham, New Hampshire.


AMANPOUR: And we're joined now by Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers.

Welcome back to "This Week."

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: So you've heard all that. John Berman set it up. This Friday, this last jobs report was meant to be the acid test. What is that telling us? Is the recovery threatened?

GOOLSBEE: Well, hold on. And I said last month when we had an excellent jobs report, 100,000 above expectations, and I said again this last Friday when it came in below expectations, don't -- don't make too much of any one month's job report, because they're highly variable. You want to look at a little bit of a trend to get a more accurate barometer, and the overall direction is, yes, somewhat slowed from the stiff headwinds of gas prices, of the events in Japan, of some of the events in Europe. But overall, the last six months, we've added a million jobs in the private sector.

AMANPOUR: Right, but every economist, including many of your advisers and colleagues, have said that in order for this to be sustainable, you have to actually have above 150,000 jobs per month. And it was way below that this month.

GOOLSBEE: Well, and in the three months before that, it was well above it. What I'm emphasizing is the -- every economist knows that the monthly numbers are highly variable, so you want to look at a little bit more than just one month before concluding on a trend.

AMANPOUR: So what happens if this same kind of report comes out next month? What does that then tell you?

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