ABC News' Tom Giusto and Rachel Martin report:
President Obama praised the latest jobs report today in a visit to a factory in Charlotte, NC, that makes parts for batteries. The company, Celgard, received nearly $50 million in taxpayer money from the Recovery Act in order to expand its production.
“Today is an encouraging day. We learned that the economy actually produced a substantial number of jobs instead of losing a substantial number of jobs,” he said. “We are turning the corner.”
But the president also sounded a cautionary note.
"We shouldn't underestimate the difficulties we face," he said. "We're still going through a hard time."
Mr. Obama was optimistic about Labor Department figures showing a gain of 162,000 jobs in March, the best showing in three years, but also took note of Americans still out of work.
“Eight million people have lost jobs over the past two years. That’s a staggering sum. Economic statistics don’t do justice to the pain and anxiety that results from unemployment," he said. "Lasting unemployment takes a toll on families, takes a toll on marriages, takes a toll on children.”
The president said the country has more work to do and it will take time, but that the worst of the storm is over.
“Government can’t reverse the toll of this recession overnight, and government on its own can’t replace the 8 million jobs that have been lost. The true engine of job growth in this country has always been the private sector, businesses like Celgard. What government can do is create the conditions for companies to succeed," said the president. “We can turn this turmoil into recovery and emerge stronger than before.”
The president pledged to put more hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, but he admitted he won’t be riding in them.
Answering a question, Mr. Obama said he had asked the Secret Service about a hybrid limousine but was told a hybrid engine could not handle the weight of the heavily armored vehicle.
“The reason is not because Secret Service are bad guys,” he said. “It’s because the cars that I’m in are like tanks. I mean, they — as you might imagine, they’re — a little bit of extra stuff on it. They’re a little reinforced. So they weigh twice or three times what an ordinary car weighs. So they just couldn’t get the performance, in terms of acceleration, using a hybrid engine.”