Jobs Council Expires as High Unemployment Persists

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President Obama has decided to let his Jobs Council expire even as 12 million Americans remain out of work.

There's also growing concern about the U.S. economy which shrank at an annual rate of .1 percent in the fourth quarter.

The president created the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011 when unemployment hovered around 9 percent. It's now 7.9 percent, up a tenth of a point from 7.8 percent in December.

Obama's executive order establishing the council expired Thursday. It was originally created as a way for business leaders to advise the president on strategies to boost the economy.

During the last two years, however, the president met with the council only a handful of times. The council also sponsored a series of meetings across the country last year with business owners, elected officials, and academics. It produced a report "Roadmap to Renewal" in January 2012.

Critics have argued that the council existed merely to showcase good intentions but didn't produce any substantive action on the issue of joblessness.

"The president treated his jobs council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Although the council is ending White House aides are optimistic about the prospects for engagement with the business community in Obama's second term.

Officials say the president made a fresh effort to reach out to leaders during the height of negotiations to avert the "fiscal cliff."

More than 400 business people, ranging from CEOs of large multinational companies to small business owners met with Obama or his aides at the White House.

Meanwhile, despite Friday's job numbers, the Labor Department said hiring has been getting stronger in recent months. Analysts expect the economy to keep growing at a slow to moderate pace this year.

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