"The economy is still under severe stress and obviously during these holidays we have to keep in mind that whatever we do ultimately has to translate into economic growth and jobs and rising incomes for the American people. And right now, we're still seeing a lot of job losses, a lot of hardship, people finding themselves in very difficult situations either because they've lost their home, they've seen their savings deteriorate, and they're still at risk of losing their jobs.
"So we've still got a lot of work to do. And over the next several weeks you will be seeing additional actions by the administration. What I just wanted to emphasize today, and I think that Ben Bernanke and Sheila Bair and our economic team as a whole would agree, we're starting to see progress. And if we stick with it, if we don't flinch in the face of some difficulties, then I feel absolutely convinced that we are going to get this economy back on track."
President Obama said Friday he saw "glimmers of hope" in the economy that could signal a bottoming out, but he warned there was a long way to go before it got back on its feet.
After meeting with his top economic advisers at the White House, Obama said there was still "a lot of work to do."
"We're starting to see progress," he said.
Obama said his administration will be taking additional steps in the next few weeks to help improve the business climate.
The White House meeting included Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, as well as economic advisers Larry Summers and Christina Romer.
The agenda was to discuss the administration's efforts to stabilize the nation's financial sector, unfreeze the credit markets and stimulate the economy. The rising unemployment rate, mortgage refinancing and the health of banks, including "stress tests" the White House is conducting, were also to be part of the discussion. The high-level meeting follows the president's attendance at the G-20 summit last week in London.
Summers, the director of the president's National Economic Council, said Thursday there were some signs the economy might be pulling out of its free fall. He would not predict how strong any rebound might be or how bad unemployment could get before a turnaround.
"There has been a substantial anecdotal flow over the last six to eight weeks of things that felt a little bit better," Summers said in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington.
A strong profit forecast from Wells Fargo & Co., a drop in unemployment benefit filings and predictions of solid April sales from several retailers were among the bright spots in recent days amid an otherwise bleak economic picture.
The government reported last week that the unemployment rate surged to a 25-year high of 8.5 percent in March. That followed a fourth quarter when the gross domestic product plunged at an annual rate of 6.3 percent, the biggest drop since 1982.
From NPR staff and wire reports