By Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton
US President Barack Obama says Americans should feel good about the economy after the latest jobs report showed the US unemployment rate at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent.
Obama, in his eighth and final year in office, on Friday (local time) made a relatively rare and unexpected appearance in the White House briefing room to talk about how the economy had recovered under his watch.
"We have recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the worst in my lifetime and the lifetime of most of the people in this room," Obama said, noting the unemployment rate was 10 percent in 2009, when he took office.
"We've done it faster, stronger, better, more durably than just about any other advanced economy," Obama said.
Obama said "softness" in China, Europe and other economies presented challenges to US exporters and he said it was important for the United States to "keep our foot to the accelerator" to further strengthen the economy.
"We should feel good about the progress we've made, understanding that we have still got more work to do," he said, noting the budget he will propose to Congress on Tuesday will have ideas for job creation and retraining.
Obama slammed Republican candidates in the race to replace him in the November presidential election for "talking down" the economy.
"I know that's still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches as their doom-and-despair tour plays in New Hampshire," Obama said, referring to the primary election in the state on Tuesday.