During a question and answer session after his Oval Office meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende Tuesday, Obama said he expects unemployment, which hit 9.5 percent nationally last month and 14 percent in auto-dependent Michigan, likely will continue inching up in coming months.
"What we have also said is that historically, even after you start moving into a recovery, positive growth, hiring typically lags for some time after that. That's been the historic norm," Obama said.
"Now, this has been a more severe recession than we've seen since the Great Depression, so how employment numbers are going to respond is not yet clear."
He said the situation would be even worse had not the federal government stepped in to help the auto industry and get the stimulus package.
The president noted, however, financial markets have now stabilized and business lending is beginning to resume.
Obama again pushed for investments in clean "energy, infrastructure, innovation, science, development and eliminating the drag the healthcare system is placing on the overall economy."