In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted there had been positive signs of growth this week, including a Labor Department report that the economy added 236,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate reached 7.7 percent -- "still too high, but now lower than it was when I took office."
"Our businesses have created jobs every month for three years straight -- nearly 6.4 million new jobs in all," he said. "Our manufacturers are bringing jobs back to America. Our stock market has rebounded. New homes are being built and sold at a faster pace."
Obama said the nation needs to "do everything we can to keep that momentum going."
"That has to be our driving focus -- our North Star," the president said. "And at a time when our businesses are gaining a little more traction, the last thing we should do is allow Washington politics to get in the way."
He said that is why he has been meeting with congressional Republicans, and has more meetings planned with Republicans and Democrats "to see if we can untangle some of the gridlock."
Obama said his meetings with Republicans this week were "open and honest," focusing not only on the economy but also on immigration reform and gun violence.
"As Democrats and Republicans, we may disagree on the best way to achieve our goals, but I'm confident we can agree on what those goals should be," the president said. "A strong and vibrant middle class. An economy that allows businesses to grow and thrive. An education system that gives more Americans the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future. An immigration system that actually works for families and businesses. Stronger communities and safer streets for our children."
Obama said progress on tough issues "won't be easy."
"But I still believe that compromise is possible," he said. "I still believe we can come together to do big things. And I know there are leaders on the other side who share that belief."