Obama's weekly address hinted that his Wednesday trip to Raleigh,
North Carolina, will focus on manufacturing.
"Working folks are looking for the kind of stable, secure jobs that
went overseas in the past couple decades. So next week, I'll join
companies and colleges and take action to boost the high-tech
manufacturing that attracts the kind of good new jobs a growing
middle class requires," Obama said in his address.
The Raleigh-Durham region is known for being home to three research
universities and a host of biotech firms.
Obama has long said that jobs are his top priority. But his
attention this year has been diverted by a series of thorny foreign
and domestic policy problems, including the U.S. response to Syria's
civil war, the botched roll-out of health care reforms, and anger at
home and abroad about the scope of U.S. surveillance practices.
The latest economic data showed that jobs growth remains a concern.
On Friday, the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers hired
the fewest workers in nearly three years in December, but the
setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that unusually cold
weather may have had an impact.
Since December, Obama has turned his attention again to economic
issues, pledging to address the gap between rich and poor in his
remaining years in office.
He has recently highlighted several issues from his 2013 State of
the Union address. For example, this week, he announced new "promise
zones" for government and private aid in five impoverished
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In the address, he also promised to create three manufacturing hubs
where businesses could work with government to create high-tech
jobs, and highlighted the promise in a speech at an Asheville, North
Carolina, truck plant the next day.
The administration launched competitions to create the three new
hubs in May, pledging $200 million in funding from the Defense,
Energy and Commerce departments, and matching funds from industry,
and state and local sources.
The winners were to be announced by the end of 2013 but have not yet
The hubs were to be modeled after a manufacturing innovation
institute in Youngstown, Ohio, where a former furniture warehouse
was turned into a 3D printing center where local manufacturers could
pick up new skills and ideas.
Obama had asked Congress for $1 billion to spend on 15 such centers
around the country, but Republicans want to rein in government
spending and oppose spending taxpayer money on business.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Ken Wills)
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