White House Economist Austan Goolsbee Predicts Growth in 2011

Austan GoolsbeeWith 14.5 million Americans jobless and the unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, President Barack Obama delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday and is expected to focus on job creation, American competitiveness and the overall state of the economy.

As we kick off a weeklong series devoted to bringing job seekers the tools they need to find a job in today's economy, AOL Jobs discussed the administration's 2011 plans for job growth and the economy with Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors and the youngest member the Obama administration who holds a Cabinet-rank position.

This year "marks the transition that we're leaving the rescue phase of the economy, where the effort was to stop the free fall and prevent the depression, and transitioning to a growth and competitiveness phase to re-establish and maintain the United States as the premier economy of the world," Goolsbee says.

Although 1.3 million private sector jobs were added in 2010, Goolsbee says, "The president is the first to say it's got to be more than that, and that we've got to accelerate the growth rate."

The Obama administration expects the deal struck with China last week to do just that. The agreement, reached between President Obama and President Hu Jinato of China during his visit to the White House, aims to make the United States more competitive and create 235,000 American jobs by opening China's markets to high-end American exports.

In his most recent weekly address, Obama said, "Here's the truth about the economy: If we're serious about fighting for American jobs and American businesses, one of the most important things we can do is open up more markets to American goods around the world."

AOL Jobs Asks
Austan Goolsbee
5 Quick Questions

1. What was your first job? I priced comic books at the Ames Used Bookstore in Whittier, Calif.

2. What inspires you? Seeing the ambition and stick-to-it-tiveness of young people in the workforce today.

3. What is the most important trait needed to succeed? In government, a sense of humor, as one has to deal with things that are not that fun. But in life, persistence, especially in tough times like this.

4. What is your biggest challenge? For government policy, it is getting millions of people back to work. For the overall economy, it is to grow and maintain our status as the premier economy in the world.

5. What is the best career advice you ever received? "If you're in a job, don't just do the minimum of what's necessary. Always try to learn more and see how far you can go."

And in another sign of his attention on the economy, the president announced on Friday the creation of The Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This board will be headed by GE's chairman and chief executive, Jeff Immelt, and will focus on getting Americans back to work by growing the U.S. economy and encouraging the private sector to invest in American businesses.

Concern about jobs cross party lines in Washington. Last week, the Republican-led House passed a bill with the controversial name of "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." Though the bill was basically a symbolic gesture -- because it has no chance of prevailing in the Democratic-controlled Senate -- members from both sides have stated that they are willing to tweak the health care reform bill, eliminating "bad" provisions but keeping the good ones.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that the rate of job growth needs to increase substantially, if the unemployment rate is to return to normal levels of 5-6 percent. While that could take up to five years, economists forecast that the unemployment rate will drop to around 8.9 percent by the end of 2011.

"We're heading in the right direction," Goolsbee says, " but we have a long way to go."

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