| GEO Business|
| US economy picking up: Obama|
| Updated at: 1702 PST, Friday, August 07, 2009|
VIRGINIA: "We're losing jobs at half the rate we were at the beginning of this year," Mr Obama told a rally outside Washington for the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor. "Our financial system is no longer on the verge of collapse. The market is up."
Mr Obama acknowledged more work was needed on recovery efforts but struck back at Republican critics, reminding his audience he had inherited the economic crisis when he took office in January. It began under his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.
"I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess," he said to loud cheers.
Many Republicans have accused Mr Obama of making economic matters worse by trying to spend the country out of recession.
His announcement followed news that the number of US workers submitting new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week, fanning hopes the fragile labour market was on the mend and that the broader economy was stabilising.
In a sign that the trend was firmly toward a moderation in the pace of layoffs, the four-week moving average for new claims fell 4,750 to 555,250 in the week ended Aug. 1.
However, the number of people collecting long-term unemployment benefits rose by 69,000 to 6.31 million in the week ended July 25, though the four-week moving average declined for four straight weeks.
Analysts said the report, which followed data on Wednesday showing steeper private-sector job cuts and declining non-manufacturing employment in July, restored optimism that the US labour market was starting to heal.
"The US labour market is on the mend. This corroborates our view that the pace of layoffs has slowed down noticeably," said Harm Bandholz, an economist at UniCredit Markets & Investment Banking in New York.
However, Christina Romer, an economic advisor at the White House, cautioned that economic recovery will be painful and that Friday's widely watched report on July unemployment likely will show hundreds of thousands more jobs were lost.