"After four years of economic growth with 8 million new private sector jobs, our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been in more than five years," the president said Saturday. "And with the economy speeding up, companies say they intend to hire more people this year.
"But while those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged," he said. "Inequality has deepened. Too many Americans are working harder and harder just to get by. And too many still aren't working at all."
Obama said turning the situation around will require restoring "opportunity for all people -- the idea that no matter who you are, if you work hard and live up to your responsibilities, you can make it if you try."
The president traveled extensively this week to promote the agenda he presented during Tuesday's State of the Union address.
"Job one is more new jobs: jobs in construction and manufacturing, jobs in innovation and energy," he said.
"In Wisconsin, I talked with plant workers at GE about part two: training more Americans with the skills to fill those new jobs," Obama said.
"In Tennessee, I talked with students about part three: guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education, from early childhood, through college, and right into a career.
"And with steelworkers in Pittsburgh, and retail workers in Maryland, I laid out part four: making sure hard work pays off for men and women, with wages you can live on, savings you can retire on, and health insurance that's there for you when you need it," the president said.
As he said several times this week, Obama said Saturday some of his proposals will require congressional approval: "But wherever I can take steps to expand opportunity for more families on my own, I will. I'm going to ask business leaders, education leaders, and philanthropic leaders to partner with us to advance these goals."