After Grim Employment Report, Obama Stresses Green Jobs

Hours after disappointing jobs report, president touts green job creation.

ByABC News
July 1, 2009, 4:46 PM

July 2, 2009— -- While the nation continues to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs each month, job creation through a "new clean energy economy" will bolster the country's economic recovery and its "long-term prosperity," President Obama said today.

Speaking after a meeting with energy company CEOs, Obama said "new ways of producing and saving and distributing energy offer a unique opportunity to create millions of jobs for the American people."

"Even as we face tough economic times, even as we continue to lose jobs, the CEOs here told me that they're looking to hire new people; in some cases to double or even triple in size over the next few years," he said.

The president spoke just hours after the U.S. Department of Labor confirmed that June was yet another tough month for America's workers. The department reported this morning that employers shed another 467,000 jobs last month -- more than analysts expected -- and that the unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent, the highest since August, 1983.

Since the recession began in late 2007, the economy has lost more than 6 million jobs.

It's not all bad news, however: Experts note that the rate of job losses is slowing -- earlier in the year, American job losses totaled more than 600,000 per month -- and that certain companies and sectors actually are expanding their payrolls.

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"We're certainly up from where we've been over last six months," said John Challenger, the CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "I think the job market just froze from November through March -- throughout the winter -- and it does seem like it's picked up right with the season."

Industries that have seen relatively consistent growth throughout the recession have included health care and education, which gained a total of 34,000 jobs between May and June. Local governments, meanwhile, have recently increased hiring as they receive government stimulus dollars.

The restaurant industry is among the more surprising recent bright spots. While conventional wisdom would indicate that belt-tightening by consumers should trounce the sector, between February and June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics registered an uptick in food services jobs.

"There are a lot of consumers who are trading down in their sectors," said Tig Gilliam, the CEO of the human resources company Adecco Group North America. "That doesn't mean that people are not going out to eat, they're just not going to eat at as-expensive restaurants."

Inexpensive restaurants that are hiring including Jason's Deli, a chain that focuses on healthy and organic food and sells sandwiches starting at $4.99. It's where Travis Smith, 34, found work as a comptroller after being laid off from the gourmet cookie company Mrs. Fields.

"For me to be able to find work within six weeks after being laid off was pretty amazing," said Smith, who started as the comptroller for the chain's Utah division earlier this year.

The company plans to hire more than 1,200 people in the next year as it opens 20 new locations, said CEO Joe Tortorice.

Applicants who were laid off from their last jobs are welcome to apply, Tortorice said.

"If we can change their life and give them an opportunity to grow, that's what we're here for," he told