Unemployment Figures Cloud Recovery Hopes

More than 15 million Americans are out of work- the highest number in 26 years. It's a sign that while some companies are starting to make money again, they're not hiring.

President Obama told Americans Saturday this will turn around.

"We knew that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession," Mr. Obama said. "Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process."

The White House is considering extending unemployment insurance and health benefits, reports CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier. It's also considering extending the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers that's set to expire at the end of November. Both ideas are also working their way through Congress to keep consumers consuming.

In all, the job market lost 263,000 jobs last month.

Mr. Obama points out it's better than when he took office, when the economy was shedding 700,000-plus jobs a month.

But critics counter the September unemployment rate would have been much higher if half-a-million people hadn't stopped looking for work - so they're no longer counted.

"If all of the people who were working part time and wanted to work fulltime are counted and all of the people who have left the labor force are counted, the unemployment rate is 17 percent," said Peter Morici, with the University of Maryland.

One big problem - people aren't buying American products, here or abroad. So factory orders are down, and supplies are piling up. Until that changes, economists predict employers will keep cutting jobs into the middle of next year.

"The economy is not performing as it should," Morici said.

The GOP calls it proof the stimulus package, meant to get Americans buying and back to work, isn't working. Republicans are pushing a plan that includes tax cuts for small businesses.

"Our plan is based on the belief that fast-acting tax relief is the most effective way to put our economy back on track," said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.

The president says he's considering other unspecified options to get Americans back to work.
  • Kimberly Dozier

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