President Barack Obama will likely name a new chief economic adviser to replace Lawrence Summers (pictured) later this week as his administration looks for more effective ways to reduce an unemployment rate that remains near 10%, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Additionally, Robert Gibbs has announced that he is stepping down as Obama's press secretary.
One name high on Washington-watchers' short list of candidates to take over from Summers as director of the National Economic Council, according to the wire service: Treasury official Gene Sperling.
The new economic adviser will likely be announced Friday, the same day as the Labor Department releases December unemployment numbers. Last month, the government reported that November's unemployment rate rose to 9.8% from 9.6% in October, while the private sector added just 50,000 jobs, about a third of what analysts had forecast. Further, the underemployment rate, which includes both the unemployed and those working part-time who are seeking full-time jobs, remained the same at a staggering 17%, while the number of people out of work for at least six months increased to 6.3 million.
Last month, Obama signed an $858 billion tax package that in part preserves Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy, but also extends unemployment benefits and cuts payroll taxes in an effort to spur the economy.
Summers has returned to his Harvard University teaching position. Gibbs plans to hit the public speaking circuit, but says he will remain an adviser to the president through the 2012 campaign.