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Obama seeks to create 2.5m jobs

President-elect Barack Obama on acting "swiftly and boldy" to create new jobs

US President-elect Barack Obama says he wants his economic team to find ways to generate 2.5 million new jobs during his first two years in office.

In a weekly address on the internet, Mr Obama said he wanted to sign the plan soon after taking office on 20 January.

The message came as unemployment claims rose by 540,000 in the US, taking the total to 1.2 million jobs lost in 2008.

Mr Obama, said to have chosen Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, is due to name his economic team on Monday.

Mr Geithner, currently chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, has been deeply involved in the efforts to cope with the current financial crisis.

He previously worked in the Bill Clinton White House, where he worked through the fallout of the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s.

US shares rose sharply on Friday as word spread of Mr Obama's reported choice, calming investor fears.

Building jobs

Talking about his desire to put job-creation at the heart of the economic policy of the incoming administration, Mr Obama said new unemployment figures reinforced the impression of an economic crisis of "historic proportions".

KEY APPOINTMENTS
Chief of staff: Rahm Emanuel, a deputy chief of staff to Bill Clinton
Senior advisers: David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Peter Rouse and John Podesta (formerly chief of staff to Bill Clinton)
Press secretary: Robert Gibbs
White House counsel: Greg Craig, formerly special counsel to Bill Clinton
Vice-president's chief of staff: Ron Klain, formerly chief of staff to Al Gore
Staff secretary: Lisa Brown, formerly counsel to Al Gore

He hailed congressional approval of a boost in unemployment benefits, adding that the latest gloomy figures had only reinforced his determination to revitalise the economy.

"We must do more to put people back to work, and get our economy moving again," the president-elect said.

He said his economic priority would be a two-year, nationwide effort to "jumpstart job-creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy".

Ageing public infrastructure would be rebuilt, Mr Obama said, adding that his administration would look quickly at developing and building sources of renewable energy, such as wind farms, designed to "free" the US from its "dependency" foreign oil.

He suggested he would need cross-party support to get his plan through, despite his Democratic party holding a majority in both houses of Congress.

"Right now there are millions of mothers and fathers who are lying awake at night wondering if next week's pay check will cover next month's bills.

"There are Americans showing up to work in the morning only to have cleared out their desks by the afternoon. These Americans need help and they need it now," Mr Obama said.

Clinton rumours

The president-elect's public preoccupation with economic matters masks moves towards other key appointments elsewhere in his transition team, reports say.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton chat during the election campaign, Ocotober 2008
Mrs Clinton seems poised to serve under her former presidential rival

New York Senator Hillary Clinton, once Mr Obama's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, is said to be ready to accept the position of secretary of state, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper said two "confidants" had confirmed that the former first lady would take on the role.

A spokesman for Mrs Clinton told the BBC only that the two camps were in discussions, which were "very much on track".

Much like the anticipated unveiling of his economic team, Mr Obama is reported to want to unveil his national security team in one fell swoop, and is said to be considering keeping incumbent Defence Secretary Robert Gates in his current job.

To date, the most senior appointment made by Mr Obama, who succeeds President Bush in January, is Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.

He is expected to announce a round of appointments after the Thanksgiving holiday next Thursday.

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