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Obama to focus on creating manufacturing jobs, boosting economy during North Carolina visit


January 15, 2014
By Darlene Superville The Associated Press

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Highlighting the growing manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy, President Barack Obama is proposing new ways for the government and the private sector to help keep those jobs coming.

Obama has announced that a consortium of 18 businesses and six universities, led by North Carolina State University, has been chosen to lead a manufacturing innovation institute to develop next-generation power electronics. It’s the first of three such hubs that Obama called for in his State of the Union address last year, using $200 million in existing federal money.

Obama’s quick stop in North Carolina also comes after the government reported last Friday that employers added just 74,000 jobs in December. The report raised fresh concerns about the pace of the economic recovery. The national unemployment rate in the U.S. also fell three-tenths of a percentage point, from seven per cent to 6.7 per cent, to its lowest level in more than five years, but only because a wave of job-seekers had given up looking for work. That meant the government no longer counted them as unemployed.

The White House says since the end of the recession, manufacturing has grown at its fastest pace in more than a decade, with more than a half-million jobs added in the past four years. The figure includes the addition of about 80,000 jobs in just the past five months, and the White House says Obama wants to build on that progress.

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The new manufacturing institute will focus on developing the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices that will be used to help make things like motors, consumer electronics and other devices smaller, faster and more efficient.