"Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report," he said.
Among the topics was Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago teen fatally shot blocks from Obama's home.
As First Lady Michelle Obama watched the speech with the families of gun violence victims, the president recalled the murder of Pendleton. He recognized her parents, Nate and Cleopatra Pendleton, and demanded Congress to vote on his gun control proposals.
"They deserve a vote. They deserve a vote," he said.
On foreign affairs, President Obama reiterated his plan to end the war in Afghanistan.
"By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over," he said.
The president all but declared the great recession over. However, he acknowledged persistent unemployment in an uneven recovery.
"Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs, but for more than a decade wages and incomes have barely budged," he said.
Obama reprised his 2012 campaign themes, with veiled criticism of congress for resisting his efforts to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations.
He proposed the minimum wage be tied to the cost of living and warned congress that he would never accept deficit reduction that relied solely on education, healthcare, and social security cuts.
"We can't ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful," President Obama said.
Some of the loudest applause erupted when President Obama called on Congress to pass immigration reform.