WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is previewing his ideas for job creation and economic growth at a Labor Day rally with union members in Detroit.
Obama's speech at the annual event sponsored by the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO was serving as a dress rehearsal for the jobs address he's delivering to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night.
The president's appearance follows last Friday's dismal jobs report, which showed that employers added no jobs in August. It was the first time since 1945 that the government reported a net job change of zero. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, held steady at 9.1 percent.
The disappointing report sparked new fears of a second recession and injected fresh urgency into efforts by Obama to help get millions of unemployed people back into the labor market - and help improve his re-election chances.
Polls show the economy and jobs are the public's top concerns. Public approval of Obama's handling of the economy hit a new low of 26 percent in a recent Gallup survey.
The unemployment report also gave Obama's Republican critics, including those who want to challenge him in next year's presidential election, fresh ammunition to pound him with.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the report disappointing, unacceptable and "further proof that President Obama has failed." Romney is scheduled to outline his own job-creation plan in a speech Tuesday in the battleground state of Nevada.
In the speech to Congress, Obama is expected to call for a mix of individual and business tax credits and public works spending. He will also press lawmakers for swift action on those proposals.
"These are bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be," Obama said last week. "So my hope and expectation is that we can put country before party and get something done for the American people."
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Monday that both political parties should get behind Obama's efforts to improve the hiring picture.
"We do need everyone to be on board," she said on NBC's "Today" show.
Solis said Obama "is very mindful of what the needs and concerns are of those individuals who have been out of work for so long." But she also said the jobless have a responsibility to seek training in new skills, if necessary, to better prepare themselves for the kinds of jobs available in today's economy.
Obama spent part of the holiday weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland "putting the finishing touches" on the proposals and the speech, said spokesman Jay Carney.
"That process continues over the next few days, but he's very far along," Carney said.
In Detroit on Monday, Obama was also expected to tout his efforts to save the auto industry and millions of jobs by providing federal bailouts in 2009 for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group LLC. The AFL-CIO rally was being held in a GM parking lot.
Obama won Michigan in the 2008 presidential election and the economically challenged state is crucial to his re-election prospects. The state unemployment rate was 10.9 percent in July, above the national average for that month. The Detroit-area jobless rate was even higher, at 14.1 percent in July.