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Barack Obama: The only path out of recession is one of sustainable job creation

A year ago, when I took office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I promised you two things. The first was that there would be better days ahead. And the second was that the road to recovery would be long, and sometimes bumpy.

That was brought home again yesterday. We learned that in November, our economy saw its first month of job gains in nearly two years – but last month, we lost more than we gained. Now, we know that no single month makes a trend, and job losses for the final quarter of 2009 were one-tenth what they were in the first quarter. But until we see a trend of sustainable job creation, we will be relentless in our efforts to put America back to work.

That task goes even deeper than replacing the seven million jobs that have been lost over the past two years. We need to rebuild our economy in such a way that our families can feel a measure of security again. Too many of the folks I've talked with this year, and whose stories I read in letters at night, tell me that they've known their own private recessions since long before economists declared one – and they'll still feel the recession long after economists have declared it over.

That's because, for decades, Washington avoided doing what was right in favour of doing what was easy. And the result was an economy where some made out well, but the middle class too often took a beating.

Over the past decade, the income of the average household actually declined, and we lost as many jobs as we created. Hardworking folks who did everything right suddenly found themselves forced to downscale their dreams because of economic factors beyond their control. We're talking about simple dreams. American dreams. A good job with a good wage. A secure and dignified retirement. Stable healthcare so you don't go broke just because you get sick. The chance to give our kids a better shot than we got.

That's why, as we begin to emerge from this crisis, we will not return to the complacency that helped cause it. Even as we focus on putting America back to work today, we're building a new foundation for our economy to create the good, lasting jobs and shared prosperity of tomorrow.

From the US President's weekly address to the nation