ABC News' Mary Bruce reports:
Following last week’s disappointing jobs report, President Obama said today that he’s not afraid that the country is slipping into a double dip recession but admitted “we don’t yet know whether this is a one-month episode or a longer trend.”
Speaking during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Obama expressed frustration with the pace of the economic recovery. “I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we're on is not producing jobs as quickly as I want it to happen,” he said.
“Prior to this month, we had seen three months of very robust job growth in the private sector, and so we were very encouraged by that. This month you still saw job growth in the private sector, but it had slowed down,” Obama explained. “Obviously we're experiencing some head winds.”
Last week’s jobs report showed that the U.S. unemployment rate has risen to 9.1%.
The president highlighted some of the steps that his administration has taken to boost economic growth including the payroll tax, the extension of unemployment insurance, and tax breaks for business investment, but said “we've still got some enormous work to do.”
“We're going to have some days where things aren't going as well as we'd like. There are going to be some times where we're surprised with better economic data than we expected. We are on the path of a recovery, but it's got to accelerate,” he said.
The President also addressed the widespread, global impact of the recession, noting that “recovering from that kind of body blow takes time… our task is to not panic, not overreact, to make sure that we've got a plan.”
Today marks Merkel’s sixth visit to the U.S. during the Obama presidency and the first "Official Visit" for a European leader. Tonight the President and First Lady will host a State Dinner for Merkel and Obama will present her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The president stressed the importance of the U.S.-German relationship at today’s press conference saying “there's hardly any global issue where we don't consult one another.”
Merkel said there are a lot of “challenges that we need to meet together,” including the challenges resulting from the Arab Spring. On that topic Obama made clear that, with regards to Libya, he and the Chancellor “share the belief that Gadhafi needs to step down, for the sake of his own people.”
At the official arrival ceremony this morning, rife with pomp and circumstance, Obama highlighted the relationship between the U.S. and Germany as central to efforts to promote peace around the world.
Obama joked that "it’s obvious that neither of us looks exactly like the leaders who preceded us… But the fact that we can stand here today as President of the United States and as Chancellor of a united Germany is a testament to the progress, the freedom, that is possible in our world.”
Merkel responded during the press conference. “In a very candid matter, I think even though we may look differently than our predecessors, we have a lot in common, I think, and we have a lot to discuss,” she said.