Obama calls for "economic patriotism" at tech startup hub

President Obama on Wednesday made an unscheduled visit to a tech startup hub in Washington, D.C. to highlight the developments in the tech sector that have contributed to continued job growth.

The tech incubator, called 1776, was the best place to visit on the eve of Independence Day, Mr. Obama said. The tech hub hosts startups tackling challenges in industries like education, energy, health care and government.

Earlier Wednesday morning, the Labor Department announced that employers added 288,000 nonfarm jobs in June, beating expectations.

"My hope is the American people look at today's news and understand that in fact we are making strides," Mr. Obama said. "We have not seen more consistent job growth since the '90s but we can make even more progress if Congress is willing to work with my administration and to set politics aside at least occasionally, which I know is what the American people are urgently looking for."

He called on Congress to show "a sort of economic patriotism -- to say to yourself, how is it we can start rebuilding this country."

Mr. Obama won cheers from the 1776 entrepreneurs when he announced that the U.S. economy saw the fastest growth in the first half of the year since 1999. He noted that the economy has experienced the quickest drop in unemployment, which now stands at 6.1 percent, in 30 years. Noting that Americans are still struggling, he called on Congress to take steps such as passing immigration reform, funding infrastructure projects, raising the federal minimum wage.

The White House noted the significant role the tech sector has played in the recovery. Employment in four tech sectors -- computer systems design, architectural and engineering services, software, and Internet publishing sectors -- is now 12 percent higher than it was prior to the recession.

Additionally, the White House noted, small firms have played a large role in the recovery. Firms with fewer than 500 employees have accounted for more than 60 percent of the jobs created since early 2010.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used the jobs report to encourage House Republicans to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate.

"Comprehensive immigration reform would have added an average of 121,000 more jobs per year over the next ten years," Reid said. "Unfortunately, House Republicans, under the influence of the Tea Party, refused to bring it up for a vote. Their refusal is costing our economy added growth that we need."

Republicans, meanwhile, called on the Senate to pass its multiple jobs bills.

"In order for us to make real progress, the president must do more than criticize," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "From trade to workplace flexibility, there's no shortage of common ground where he can push his party's leaders in the Senate to work with us."