President Barack Obama says he expects the unemployment rate to go down because of the new compromise on averting tax increases, although he isn't predicting how much it will improve.

Obama said he believes the current 9.8 percent jobless rate will recede because the economy is growing, even if businesses haven't yet picked up the pace of hiring enough to send large numbers of people back to work.

Answering questions about high joblessness at a White House news conference, the president said "I'm not going to make a prediction." At the same time, he said providing a measure of greater certainty about taxes already is having a positive effect.

He said one of the benefits of the tax deal he struck with congressional Republicans is that the legislation will further extend unemployment benefits to the long-term jobless.