By JOSH LEDERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama is letting his jobs council expire, cutting off one source of input from business leaders while unemployment remains stubbornly high.
Obama formed the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011, when unemployment was about 9 percent. It's now 7.8 percent, though more than 12 million people are out of work.
Obama's executive order establishing the council said it would go out of business Jan. 31, 2013. The White House said Thursday that Obama had no plans to renew its charter.
"The work of the jobs council was very valuable," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "While the president didn't agree with all of its recommendations, he agreed with many of them and acted on a number of them."
White House officials said Obama intended for the council to fulfill its mission and then wind down, and that he would seek input about the economy from business leaders in other ways. Among the steps Obama plans to pursue are expedited permits for public works projects, plus programs to boost entrepreneurship and workforce development.
Even before Obama's decision was clear, Republicans seized on the council's likely expiration as evidence the president hadn't spent enough time on trying to create jobs, which is a priority for Americans. The Republican National Committee called it part of "the failed Obama record," while the House Republicans' campaign committee, in an online petition, accused Obama of laying off his own jobs council.
Adding to the concern about the job market's vulnerability, the Commerce Department said Wednesday that the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent from October through December of last year, the first quarterly drop since 2009. The Federal Reserve said the economy appears to have "paused in recent months."
The jobs council was a successor to an economic advisory board Obama created at the onset of his presidency. The panel was chaired by General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and included prominent business leaders and economists. Immelt said Thursday that progress has been made on putting in place 90 percent of the council's recommendations.