The Washington Post

Obama to try to turn attention to economy in Cleveland

President Obama, shown here speaking to the media on March 1, 2013 in Washington, DC, has become a Tonight Show regular. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Obama. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the White House races to fix the Affordable Care Act, President Obama is traveling to Cleveland on Thursday to shine a light on the economy and, in particular, the manufacturing industry he says is critical to the country’s future.

Obama will be visiting ArcelorMittal, a company that makes steel for cars, to celebrate the rebound of the auto industry since the lows of the recession, officials say. There, he will tout the surge in employment in the auto sector since the government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler – the industry has added 357,300 jobs since then, the best jobs growth since the robust 1990s.

ArcelorMittal, for one, has brought back employees furloughed during the recession and hired 150 additional people.

Yet the story is not so simple – economically or politically.

While employment in the auto industry continues to grow, the manufacturing renaissance Obama has touted under his administration has largely stalled. The industry has added only 35,000 jobs in the first 10 months of this year – in comparison to adding 341,000 jobs over the same period last year.

If that trend continues, Obama’s goal of adding 1 million new manufacturing jobs in the economy by the end of his second term would be impossible.

Obama has proposed policies – establishing more manufacturing hubs that link companies and community colleges, investments in cutting-edge manufacturing projects – that could accelerate hiring.

But the proposals are lost in Congress, which is heavily focused now on problems with Obama’s health-care law.

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.



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