White House

Obama touts jobs growth as jobless rate falls

President Barack Obama speaks about jobs, in front of steel coils at the Millennium Steel Service, as part of Manufacturing Day in Princeton, Ind., Oct. 3, 2014.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Barack Obama committed to growing American manufacturing and touted the national employment gains under his administration on Friday.

The president said the country is "on pace for the strongest job growth since the 1990s," in a town hall at Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Indiana.

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Earlier Friday, the monthly jobs report showed the U.S. had added 248,000 nonfarm payrolls in September. The unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent, according to the report, which is the first time it has fallen to less than 6 percent since 2008.

"There is a lot of good stuff happening in the economy right now, but what we all know is that there are still some challenges," Obama said.

Echoing his speech from Northwestern University on Thursday, Obama said the next step to hit the economy will be to boost wages.

"Wages and incomes have not moved up as fast as all the gains we're making in jobs and productivity," Obama said. "Too much of the growth and income and wealth is going to the very top, and not enough of it is being spread to the ordinary worker."

The president said, however, that American companies are even now capable of fixing some of this problem.

"Corporate balance sheets in America are as strong as they've been in history—it's part of the reason why the stock market is doing great—so it's not as if companies don't have some room to pay their workers more, they're just not doing it.