Washington -- President George W. Bush has retreated from a bold forecast from his economic advisers that projected that the United States would add some 2.6 million jobs this year.

According to a report released last week by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, domestic payrolls would increase to roughly 132.7 million workers in 2004, from 2003 levels of 130.1 million.

While not endorsing the figures, the President said, "I think the economy is growing, and I think it's going to get stronger."

The forecast was made by CEA staff, as well as the Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget. Democrats, who are expected to use the economic job numbers as a key campaign issue, were quick to point out that during the Bush administration, the economy had lost about 2.3 million jobs.

It was the second time in as many weeks President Bush has been forced into retreat on economic policy. Two weeks ago, CEA chairman N. Gregory Mankiw said that the loss of service jobs overseas could be beneficial to the economy. Democrats contended that Mankiw was, in effect, hailing the loss of American jobs.

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