CANNES, France (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. economy is growing "way too slow" but that leaders at a world summit have made progress at getting their countries on a firmer footing.
"Put simply, the world faces challenges that put our economic recovery at risk," Obama said in a news conference at the meeting of the 20 major developed and emerging economies as he promoted a jobs theme central to his re-election campaign.
He said Europe has rallied around a plan to address a debt crisis from spiraling beyond the financial emergency in Greece and potentially dealing another blow to the U.S. economy.
As for a new jobs report back at home that showed only modest employment growth, Obama said the economy was expanding too slowly.
The president said the United States had acted aggressively to manage its economic crisis a couple years ago, and he prodded his partners in Europe to do the same.
"They're going to have a strong partner in us," Obama said, "but European leaders understand that ultimately what the markets are looking for is a strong signal from Europe that they're standing behind the euro."
About one year from the 2012 presidential election, Obama brushed off the political implications of his economic agenda. Republicans have him hammered over the pace of the economic rebound.
"I have to tell you, the least of my concerns at the moment is the politics of a year from now," Obama said. "I'm worried about putting people back to work right now because those folks are hurting and the U.S. economy is underperforming."
The gridlock of domestic politics followed Obama to France. He urged House and Senate Republicans to join him in passing a jobs bill now moving in pieces.
The U.S. unemployment rate slipped one-tenth of a percent in October to 9 percent as the economy generated 80,000 jobs. The nation's unemployment rate had held at 9.1 percent for three straight months.
Stalled joblessness poses significant problems for Obama, who has been unable to get Republican support for a $447 billion jobs plan. The Senate on Thursday defeated Obama's proposal to spend $50 billion to modernize roads and bridges and put idled construction workers back on the job.
Obama spent much of the day in private meetings with world leaders. He met separately with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, telling reporters beforehand that they would discuss "how we can set an agenda that focuses on increasing prosperity and employment and opportunity for people throughout the Americas."
After the news conference, Obama joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a ceremony honoring the U.S.-French alliance and service members from both countries who helped the successful allied campaign in Libya. He and Sarkozy then taped a joint interview to be aired on French television, before Obama boarded Air Force One for the trip back to Washington after a quick two days in France.
At his news conference, Obama gave a vote of confidence to European leaders and warned of the domino effect if the debt crisis wasn't solved.
"If Europe isn't growing, it's harder for us to do what we need to do for the American people: creating jobs, lifting up the middle class and putting our fiscal house in order," he said.
He added: "There's no excuse for inaction. That's true globally. It's certainly true back home. And I'm going to keep pushing it."
Obama arrived at the summit on Wednesday as leaders worried about the Greek prime minister's call for a public vote on the bailout plan. While the referendum was scrapped, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou still faced a difficult confidence vote Friday.