Obama: Jobs growth achieved, task now to grow wages

President Barack Obama touted his economic track record and charted the course for his next goal in a Thursday speech at Northwestern University.

"It is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than it was when I took office. At the same time, it is also indisputable that millions of Americans don't yet feel enough of the benefits of a growing economy where it matters most—in their own lives," the president said, adding that "our task now is to harness the momentum that is real, that does exist, and make sure that we accelerate that momentum, that the economy grows, and jobs grow, wages grow. That's our challenge."

President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Evan Vucci | AP
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Highlighting the job growth since he took office, Obama said this achievement has been shared by both Americans' "drive and determination" and "sound decisions made by my administration."

Discussing his efforts to grow jobs opportunities and address the health-care system in the country, Obama struck an optimistic tone.

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"Here's the bottom line: For all the work that remains, for all the citizens we still need to reach, what I want people to know is that there are some really good things happening in America," Obama said.

The president also said that the middle class is the essential "rock" by which the American economy should be based, rather than previous engines of growth.

"We learned the hard way that it wasn't sustainable to have an economy where too much of the growth was based on inflated home prices and bubbles that burst, and the casino mentality on Wall Street; where the recklessness of a few could threaten us all; where incomes at the top skyrocketed while working families saw theirs decline," Obama said. "That was not a formula for sustained growth."

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Despite his swipe at Wall Street, Obama emphasized his support for capitalism.

"I actually believe that capitalism is the greatest force for prosperity and opportunity the world has ever known, and I believe in private enterprise and not government," the president said. "But I also believe in a higher principle, which is we're all in this together. That's the spirit that made the American economy work."