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White House shutters jobs council, citing progress on issues

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Thursday it is disbanding President Barack Obama's jobs council, a group of high-profile chief executives who gave advice on how to boost hiring at a time of high unemployment.

The White House said it has made progress on the council's recommendations and will begin a new, expanded effort to work with the business community to advance policy priorities promoted by the panel.

"The expanded effort to build on progress made by the jobs council fits into a broad and aggressive engagement strategy that has already begun," a White House official said.

The Jobs Council, chaired by Jeff Immelt of General Electric, had not met with Obama for more than a year and had been dismissed by critics as ineffectual.

"Whether ignoring the group or rejecting its recommendations, the president treated his Jobs Council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.

The U.S. jobless rate hangs stubbornly at 7.8 percent, down from a peak of 10 percent in the depth of the recession after Obama took office in January 2009.

The White House said the council's recommendations helped make it easier for small businesses to work with government and led to a streamlined tourist visa process.

The administration will continue to talk directly with business leaders to seek their advice on issues like debt reduction and immigration reform, the White House said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Jeff Mason and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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