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President Barack Obama – citing the job losses since he took office — said “the economy would be much better off,” unemployment would be 6.5 percent and the national deficit would be in decline if there were more federal, state and local government workers.

“If those layoffs had not happened, if public sector employees grew like they did in the past two recessions, the unemployment rate would be 6.5 instead of 7.5,” Obama said. “Our economy would be much better off, and the deficit would still be going down because we would be getting more tax revenue.”

Obama spoke Tuesday at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he promoted plans he said would help the middle class such as corporate tax reform, increased federal spending on infrastructure, more education spending, public-private partnerships and rolling back the sequester.

“Instead of using a scalpel to get rid of programs we don’t need and keep vital investments that we do, the same group has kept in place this meat cleaver called the sequester that is just slashing all kinds of investments in education and research and our military,” Obama said.