A new government report asserts that the recession ended in June 2009, but on the campaign trail Monday, President Barack Obama encountered deep frustration from voters over the economy.
President Obama reached out to skeptical participants at a CNBC town hall meeting at the Newsuem in Washington, D.C. He vigorously defended his efforts to restart the economy -- but clearly some in the audience weren't sold on his argument.
"I'm exhausted," one woman -- a military veteran and mother of two -- told Obama. "I'm exhausted of defending you, defending your administration, defending the mantle of change that I voted for and deeply disappointed with where we are right now."
"My goal here is not to try to convince you that everything's where it needs to be," Obama said. "It's not. But we're moving in the right direction."
Although economists said the U.S. is now beyond the recession -- 79 percent of the public polled this summer said the country is still in it.
Unemployment is one key factor driving that perception.
"For the average American, none of this matters, not until we create enough jobs to bring down unemployment and we're still a good 6 to 12 months away from that," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics Inc.
The president has just a month-and-a-half to convince voters to ignore nearly ten percent unemployment and keep Democrats in charge of both houses of Congress.
To that end, he's casting Democrats as fighters for the middle class -- and Republicans as protectors of the wealthy and special interests.
The president has also challenged Republicans to spell out just what they would do to help the economy. On Thursday, House Republicans said they will do just that, rolling out a 20-point agenda on jobs, spending, healthcare and more.