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White House economic aide Sperling says will depart March 5

Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling speaks to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washingto
Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling speaks to the press in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washingto

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After postponing his departure from the White House by a few months, President Barack Obama's top economic aide, Gene Sperling, said on Wednesday that he will leave the administration early next month.

"My last day is March 5," Sperling said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. He will depart the day after the White House issues its budget proposal for fiscal 2015 on March 4.

Sperling, a longtime adviser to Obama and to former President Bill Clinton, first announced in September that he would leave the White House to join his family in California.

He agreed to stay until January to help the White House through difficult talks with Congress about the budget and debt ceiling, which in October led to a government shutdown.

Sperling later agreed to stay on a bit longer to give his replacement, Jeffrey Zients, time to ease into the job after Zients spent two months overseeing efforts to fix HealthCare.gov, the website used to shop for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Sperling has led several recent White House initiatives, including the push to extend unemployment benefits, plans to help more low-income students go to college, and efforts to encourage more chief executives to hire those who have been unemployed for a long period of time.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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