MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday the latest employment report shows that the economy is not creating jobs "as fast as we want," but he pledged that the economy will improve.
"We will come back stronger. We do have better days ahead," Obama said at a Golden Valley, Minn., Honeywell plant where the company has taken steps to hire veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The president was responding to the government's jobs report for May, which showed that only 69,000 jobs were added during the month. That was the fewest in a year, as the unemployment rate increased to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April.
Obama, in a tight re-election campaign against Republican Mitt Romney, said the economy still faces a number of challenges, including Europe's debt crisis and higher gas prices, which have hurt families.
"The economy still isn't where it needs to be," Obama said.
Romney told CNBC that Obama's economic policies had not worked and the new report was a "harsh indictment" of how the Democrat incumbent has steered the economy.
Obama later told donors at a Minneapolis fundraiser that the last four years had been "as tough a period in our country's history as anything in our lifetimes, certainly since the 1930s." He said his administration had tried to make "dogged progress" but acknowledged "we're not out of the woods yet."
He said Republicans had been driven in part by a focus to "beat Obama" and he hoped winning a second term would change that mentality.
"My hope, my expectation is that after the election, now that it turns out the goal of beating Obama doesn't make much sense because I'm not running again, that we can start getting some cooperation again," Obama said.
Obama told workers at the Honeywell plant that Congress could still take steps to help jump-start the economy. While acknowledging the political realities of an election year, he said the November election was no reason for inaction in Washington.
"There's no excuse for it, not when there are so many people out there looking for work," he said.
He cited providing more money for states and local governments to help avert layoffs of teachers and first responders, saying the dollars could "serve as a buffer in case the situation in Europe gets any worse."
Obama wants Congress to support incentives to hire veterans as police officers and firefighters. He also was taking action to help service members with manufacturing and high-demand skills receive civilian credentials and licenses.
The veterans "job corps" is part of Obama's "to-do list" to spur job creation. It features a number of economic initiatives he has pushed before to help manufacturers, homeowners and veterans.
Obama held three fundraisers at a Minneapolis restaurant owned by the sons of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, raising an estimated $1.8 million. He wrapped up the day in his hometown of Chicago, where he was holding three more fundraisers and staying overnight in his own home.
The events were supporting the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama's campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.