Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

“It is our generation’s task, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth —
a rising, thriving middle class,”

— President Barack Obama

Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

Competing Globally

To create true middle class security, we must out-innovate, out-educate  and out-build the rest of the world, positioning American companies to thrive in a 21st century economy. That’s why President Obama set a goal of doubling America’s exports within five years and his Administration is taking steps to do just that by pressuring Congress to pass pending trade agreements, expanding loans to exporters, preserving the free flow of information on the Internet, and promoting American manufacturing. And he is working to make America the best place for people to do business, by reforming our patent system, improving our infrastructure and investing in our workers. 

Growing Exports and Bringing Investment to America

Exports are a large part of how U.S. companies will compete on the global stage: 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside America’s borders and more than one billion new consumers worldwide will enter the middle class during the next 15 years. President Obama is committed to making sure we soon see more products for them to buy that are stamped with three words: Made in America.

The President launched the National Export Initiative in 2010, setting a goal for America to double our exports by 2014. We are currently ahead of schedule in meeting the President’s goal: In the first year, the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Service helped over 5,500 U.S. companies enter additional export markets or export their goods for the first time. Over 85 percent of these companies were small and medium-sized businesses. Additionally, through the Small Business Jobs Act, the Administration has significantly increased the maximum size of Export Working Capital Program loans and International Trade loans to $5 million. Through the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), the Administration has started a Supply Chain Finance Program that enables companies to borrow at reduced rates and more precisely manage their risk. Ex-Im has already approved $550 million in loans to approximately 1,000 new small businesses. Ex-Im has also started an Express Insurance program that helps small companies export by protecting their products from foreign buyer and country risk. A leading source of growth domestically and internationally is the Internet economy, so our Global Internet Policy initiative is working to encourage our allies and trading partners to adopt innovation-enhancing approaches to issues such as the free flow of information, privacy, cyber security, and intellectual property protection. Recently 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development adopted Internet Policymaking Principles that will help assure US Internet companies are able to compete and grow in the global Internet marketplace.

New Trade Agreements

On October 21, 2011 President Obama signed three trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama into law, a key step towards helping create and preserve U.S. jobs. At the same time, he also signed an extenstion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that helps workers whose jobs are affected by global competition. All four of these items are important elements of the President’s balanced trade agenda to open markets for U.S. exporters and keep faith with workers here at home. 

The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement will have a more positive impact on America’s economic output than the last nine trade agreements combined. It will eliminate within five years tariffs on many U.S. industries selling to Korea, including agricultural equipment and automotive and consumer goods. The tariff cuts in the agreement alone could increase exports of American goods by $10 - $11 billion, supporting tens of thousands of American jobs. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement opens up the third largest economy in Central and South America to American businesses. It will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expanding the exports of American goods by a projected more than $1.1 billion and supporting thousands of additional jobs here at home. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement gives American businesses access to the one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, with a $20.6 billion services market, and a major shipping route. This Agreement is critical, as the United States faces strong competition in Panama from other countries, with Canada and the European Union having already finalized their trade agreements.

Attracting Foreign Investment

The Obama Administration is positioning America to compete for foreign investment. On June 15, 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating SelectUSA, the first coordinated federal effort to aggressively pursue and win new business investment in the United States and a direct response to concerns expressed by the business community.

SelectUSA, will encourage foreign businesses to operate in the United States, promote expansion of American and foreign businesses here at home, and work with American companies operating outside our borders to “on-shore” their operations back to the United States. How? First, SelectUSA, is empowered with executive authority to cut through federal “red tape,” providing assistance to states that need federal departments and agencies to work together in the interest of job creation. Second, SelectUSA, will engage in advocacy and outreach to promote the United States as the best market for business operations in the world. Finally, SelectUSA, consolidates all the information on federal programs and services available to companies that operate in the United States into a one-stop web portal.

Investing in American Manufacturing

President Obama is committed to making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing so we continue to build things the rest of the world buys. After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 over the past three. Manufacturing production has grown since the end of the recession at its fastest pace in over a decade.

In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama put forward a plan that builds on that momentum by investing in American manufacturing. The President outlined a concrete agenda to train American workers for high-tech manufacturing jobs, end tax breaks to ship jobs overseas and make the U.S. more competitive, bring jobs back, and level the playing field for our workers by opening new markets for American-made products. 

  • Partnering with businesses and communities to invest in American-made technologies and American workers through a network of new Manufacturing Innovation Institutes: The President has proposed a one-time $1 billion investment to create a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country, and urges Congress to act on this proposal. But to make progress right away, he is also acting through executive authority to launch three new institutes, which are partnerships among business, universities and community colleges, and government, to develop and build manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs.    
  • Ending tax breaks to ship jobs overseas and making the U.S. more competitive: To support our manufacturers and encourage companies to invest in the U.S., the President has proposed to reform our business tax code, lowering the rate for manufacturers to 25 percent, expanding and making permanent the research and development tax credit, and putting in place a global minimum tax to prevent a race to the bottom in corporate tax rates.
  • Bringing Jobs Back: The President has proposed a new partnership with communities to attract manufacturers and their supply chains, especially to hard hit manufacturing towns. The President is also proposing to expand SelectUSA, a program designed to partner with our governors and mayors to bring in business investment from around the world, ensuring that America can compete globally and bring jobs and investment to our shores.
  • Leveling the playing field and opening markets for American-made products: In addition to the President’s efforts to double exports, including through new steps to open markets in Asia and Europe to American-made goods, the President will continue to enforce trade laws to protect American workers from unfair trade practices and strengthen the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center launched last year.

Learn more: President Obama's plan to invest in manufacturing

Investing in Infrastructure

Investing in infrastructure not only makes our roads, bridges, and ports safer and allows our businesses and workers to be as competitive as they need to be in the global economy, it also creates thousands of good American jobs that cannot be outsourced. Since the President took office four years ago, America has begun the hard work of rebuilding our infrastructure.  But there’s more to do, and that’s why President Obama introduced a plan to ensure that the money we invest in infrastructure is spent wisely by adopting a “fix-it-first” policy. 

Repair and maintenance of our existing roads, bridges and public transportation systems should take priority before we consider investing in new facilities.  This will ensure that our cities are safer and more modern.  But taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the entire burden either.  We also know that America works best when we’re tapping the resources and ingenuity of a vibrant private sector. 

That’s why the President’s infrastructure plan calls for a Rebuild America Partnership that will attract private capital to build the infrastructure our businesses need most.  By acting on the President’s plan, together we can prove that there is no better place to do business and create jobs than right here in the United States of America.  

  • Investing in a “fix-it-first” policy:  The President’s plan will immediately invest $50 billion in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, with $40 billion targeted to the most urgent upgrades and focused on fixing our highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports most in need of repair.
  • Attracting private investment through a “Rebuild America Partnership”:  The President’s plan will partner federal, state, and local governments with businesses and private capital to provide America with the best transportation, electric, water, and communications networks in the world.
  • Cutting red tape:  The President’s plan will cut timelines in half for infrastructure projects and create incentives for better outcomes for communities and the environment through a historic modernization of agency permitting and review regulations, procedures, and policies.

Learn more: President Obama's plan to invest in infrastructure

Education and Workforce Development

To win the global competition for new jobs and industries, the United States must continue to have the best trained and most skilled workforce.  In an increasingly global economy, highly skilled workers will be best positioned to secure high-wage jobs and fuel American prosperity.  That’s why the Obama Administration has developed numerous initiatives across the federal government to help the workforce of today lead the economy of tomorrow.

The President’s plan for jobs and growth – the American Jobs Act – will help support a skilled labor force today and in the future with investments in preventing teacher layoffs and school modernization, as well as drawing on the best ideas of both parties to reform our unemployment insurance system and give workers the skills they need to get back on the job. For example, the American Jobs Act  would authorize states to implement “Bridge to Work” programs to help connect the long-term unemployed to employers – through temporary work that allows employers to bring on potential new employees, helps the unemployed maintain or learn new skills, and on-ramps to hiring by allowing employers to subsidize the costs of developing newly employed workers’ skills.

Since 2009, we have made historic investments to link training programs with job opportunities in high-growth sectors like clean energy, healthcare, IT, and advanced manufacturing. We have also made millions of dollars available through grants to foster private and public sector partnerships that will support innovation and green jobs, and create career opportunities for ex-offenders, at-risk youth, women, Veterans, and their families. This administration is also looking beyond the jobs of today to ensure American competitiveness for generations to come. 

President Obama knows that businesses need a strong, skilled workforce to succeed in a 21st Century economy. The Administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top initiative funded by the Recovery Act as well as the $650 million Investing in Innovation (i3) Program have helped drive important state and local educational reforms and are unleashing new market opportunities for learning technologies.

Additionally, as part of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign to raise American students to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade, President Obama announced the launch of Change the Equation, a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As one of our recent studies shows, STEM careers are in demand by American businesses. Within a year, Change the Equation will replicate successful privately funded programs in 100 high-need schools and communities. The President’s goal is to add 100,000 STEM teachers by 2015.