White House: Jobs Report A Sign of Slow Growth

The White House said Thursday a report showing a sixth straight month of job losses in June was another sign of slower U.S. economic growth.

"The employment report today was largely in line with expectations," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

"We are no doubt in a period of slow growth, it is growth nonetheless but it's very slow and it's had an impact on employment," she told reporters.

The Labor Department said on Friday that 62,000 U.S. nonfarm jobs were lost last month, bringing to 438,000 the number of jobs shed so far this year as persistent housing market woes chilled economic growth. The unemployment rate, which shot up sharply in May, held steady at 5.5 percent.

"It's caused by a variety of factors including higher energy prices and the fallout from the overbuilding in the housing sector which caused a supply/demand problem and then we also had as a result of that some financial market turbulence," she said.

Earlier this year Congress passed and President Bush signed a $152 billion stimulus package full of tax rebates aimed at encouraging consumers to spend more. Perino said more than $86 billion in rebate checks have been sent out already.

"Reports are that largely the stimulus checks are being pumped back into the economy which is exactly the effect that we wanted to have in terms of retail sales so that we can stimulate the economy," she said. "We continue to look for ways that we could do that."

She urged Congress to pass housing reform legislation, saying it was one option to quickly boost the economy.