WASHINGTON -- With health care having garnered most of the attention on Capitol Hill lately, President Barack Obama put the U.S. economy back into the spotlight Thursday, holding the first-ever jobs summit at the White House.
Nearly 16 million Americans are now out of work. The nation's unemployment rate has ballooned to more than 10 percent and could climb even higher.
"What do you tell people who are losing good paying jobs?" United Steelworkers Union representative Paul Footit asked. "I don't know, there is no answer, you know."
On Thursday, the president sought advice on the matter.
Click play for reaction to President Obama's job summit with busines leader Brett McMahon, who represents the Associated Builders & Contractors.
He invited CEOs of major corporations, small business owners, labor bosses and leaders of non-profits to the White House to take part in a jobs summit designed to generate ideas that put Americans back to work.
"My business advice for the president is to go to the people who regulate our banks and figure out a way to get the small and medium-size loans to actually start happening," Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggested. "That's the quickest way that we can get businesses to hire people and create jobs."
The president will also address his critics who argue his oversight of the $787 billion stimulus package has been mediocre.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., has even hit the road on his own jobs summit tour.
Gingrich says making the case for tax breaks would give small businesses a boost.
"Fewer people in the Obama administration have a private sector job creating background than any administration in American history," he said.
The average unemployed American has now been out of work for six months. That has lawmakers considering extending jobless benefits that could cost taxpayers an extra $100 billion.
Meanwhile, the president is expected to lay out his ideas for job growth in a speech next Tuesday.