Obama Announces Partnership To Create Factory Jobs

President Obama announced a new manufacturing partnership Friday with businesses and universities. It's designed to make U.S. factories more competitive — and boost the number of good-paying factory jobs.

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One sector of the economy that has been creating jobs is manufacturing. Today, the Commerce Department reported a small jump in last month's factory orders, and President Obama hopes to encourage that trend. He announced a new partnership today between businesses and universities.

As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the effort is designed to make U.S. factories more competitive.

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama kicked off the manufacturing initiative at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and the setting was no accident.

President BARACK OBAMA: This is a city that knows something about manufacturing.

HORSLEY: For generations, Mr. Obama said, good-paying factory jobs were the gateway to a middle-class lifestyle.

President OBAMA: Here and across America's industrial heartland, millions clocked in each day, at foundries and on assembly lines, to make things.

HORSLEY: Today, fewer Americans make things. Manufacturing now accounts for less than one job in 10. In 1970, it was one in four. That's important because factory jobs tend to pay more, and offer better benefits, than jobs in the service sector. By teaming up with businesses and universities, the administration hopes to find better, faster, cheaper ways for American factories to make things.

President OBAMA: This partnership is about new, cutting-edge ideas to create new jobs, spark new breakthroughs, reinvigorate American manufacturing today.

HORSLEY: To showcase advanced manufacturing, Mr. Obama plans to visit an aluminum factory in Iowa on Tuesday. First, though, there's the pressing issue of the government's budget deficit. Mr. Obama meets Monday with Republican and Democratic Senate leaders. Deficit meetings between lawmakers and Vice President Biden were abruptly halted yesterday, when House Republican leader Eric Cantor backed out.

Cantor and other Republicans are refusing to include tax increases as part of a deficit-cutting plan. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One today, trying to address the deficit through spending cuts alone would not be fair or balanced.

Spokesman JAY CARNEY (White House): We believe that we can move forward as long as no one in this office takes the my-way-or-the-highway approach.

HORSLEY: Lawmakers are demanding some progress on the deficit before they'll vote to increase the federal debt ceiling. The government has less than six weeks to raise that debt limit, or run the risk of defaulting on its loans.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House.

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