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The President's Weekly Address

December 31, 2016

Happy New Year, everybody. At a time when we turn the page on 1 year and look ahead to the future, I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for everything you've done to make America stronger these past 8 years.

Just 8 years ago, as I prepared to take office, our economy teetered on the brink of depression. Nearly 800,000 Americans were losing their jobs each month. In some communities, nearly one in five folks were out of work. Almost 180,000 troops were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Usama bin Laden was still at large. And on challenges from health care to climate change, we'd been kicking the can down the road for way too long.

Eight years later, you've told a different story. We turned recession into recovery. Our businesses have created 15.6 million new jobs since early 2010, and we've put more people back to work than all other major advanced economies combined. A resurgent auto industry has added nearly 700,000 jobs and is producing more cars than ever. Poverty is falling. Incomes are rising. In fact, last year, folks' typical household income rose by $2,800, that's the single biggest increase on record, and folks at the bottom and middle saw bigger gains than those at the top.

Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance. Our kids' high school graduation rate is at an alltime high. We've brought 165,000 troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and took out Usama bin Laden. Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program, opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, and brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids. Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did 8 years ago. And marriage equality is finally a reality from coast to coast.

We have made extraordinary progress as a country these past 8 years. And here's the thing: None of it was inevitable. It was the result of tough choices we made and the result of your hard work and resilience. And to keep America moving forward is a task that falls to all of us. Sustaining and building on all we've achieved—from helping more young people afford a higher education, to ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions, to tightening rules on Wall Street, to protecting this planet for our kids—that's going to take all of us working together. Because that's always been our story: the story of ordinary people coming together in the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but always vital, work of self-government.

It has been the privilege of my life to serve as your President. And as I prepare to take on the even more important role of citizen, know that I will be there with you every step of the way to ensure that this country forever strives to live up to the incredible promise of our founding: that all of us are created equal and all of us deserve every chance to live out our dreams.

From the Obama family to yours, have a happy and blessed 2017.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 4:30 p.m. on December 16 in the Map Room at the White House for broadcast on December 31. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on December 30, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on December 31. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of this address.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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