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Obama on Jobs: We Have a Lot More Work to Do

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama cheered a surprising uptick in December jobs, while warning employees at the country’s new consumer watchdog agency, “there are a lot of people that are still hurting out there.”

The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 200,000 new jobs last month, a number that exceeded some analyst expectations. The new jobs pushed the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent, the lowest in nearly three years.

The newest numbers don't reflect those who have given up looking for work, or differentiate full time workers from temporary hires traditionally employed only for the holiday season.

“We’re starting to rebound,” Obama said. “We’re moving in the right direction. We have made real progress. Now is not the time to stop it.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill also welcomed the positive news, but said there are still not enough jobs being created to drive down unemployment.

“It’s good news that more Americans found work last month despite a sluggish economy, but both parties must come together and do more to address the ongoing uncertainty that small businesses face,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement.

Obama called on Congress to extend a Social Security payroll tax through 2012, saying, “We have a responsibility to make sure the economy that we’re rebuilding is one where middle class families feel like they can get ahead again.”

Speaking at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Obama made no mention of the controversy surrounding his appointment of the agency’s director, Richard Cordray.

On Wednesday, the president infuriated Republicans by using a recess appointment to name the former Ohio attorney general to the post. Senate Republicans called the move an unconstitutional power grab.

Opponents to Cordray's appointment took issue not with his skills, but the fact that the CFPB he'll be running will allow him to wield massive power, unlimited by any kind of congressional checks and balances. Obama ignored those concerns, and went ahead with the recess appointment anyway -- despite the fact that Congress isn't is recess; it's techically being held open by a so-called pro-forma session, which in the past has effectively blocked presidents from circumventing congressional approval of appointees. In spite of this, Obama appointed Cordray anyway.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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