For Discussion: Obama Presidency
President Barack Obama announcing Princeton Economist Alan Krueger (L) as Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Monday, Aug. 29. REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he has chosen Princeton University labor economist Alan Krueger to become the top White House economist.

The selection signaled Obama's attempt to make good on his promise to focus on the U.S. economy and jobs with Americans deeply dissatisfied with his handling of those issues.

Krueger would succeed Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The decision comes as Obama prepares to unveil a jobs package in a speech planned for shortly after the September 5 Labor Day holiday.

As one of this country's leading economists, Alan has been a key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades, Obama said in a written statement. Alan understands the difficult challenges our country faces, and I have confidence that he will help us meet those challenges as one of the leaders on my economic team.

Obama's public approval ratings have fallen to around 43 percent, close to the lows of his presidency, amid anxiety over the 9.1 percent unemployment rate and lackluster economic growth.

Krueger's expertise in labor-market issues is in keeping with the administration's efforts to underscore a focus on jobs.

The formal announcement of the pick will come at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) in the White House Rose Garden.

Goolsbee, one of Obama's longest-serving advisers, left the administration earlier this month to return to his teaching job at the University of Chicago. The departure was a blow for the White House as Goolsbee had been a high-profile spokesman on the economy.

Krueger served in the Obama administration as a Treasury Department economist but left that job to return to Princeton last fall.

The nomination requires Senate confirmation but Krueger has an advantage because he has gone through the confirmation process before for his Treasury job.

At Treasury, Krueger was assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist. He is also a veteran of President Bill Clinton's administration, serving as chief economist for the Department of Labor from August 1994 to August 1995.

Krueger holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. He earned his PhD in economics at Harvard University.

While at Princeton, Krueger was a regular contributor to the Economic Scene column in The New York Times.

Krueger has written extensively on unemployment and the effects of education on the labor market.

If confirmed as CEA chairman, Krueger would be the third person to hold that post under Obama. Obama's first CEA chairman, Christina Romer, left the post a year ago to return to the University of California, Berkeley.