Obama Hits Road Seeking Jobs

Political experts say Obama's hopes of winning a second term may depend on a turnaround of the economy, after recent data showed the recovery apparently slowing, with disappointing jobs and manufacturing numbers.

President Barack Obama is taking aim at the unemployment crisis inflicting misery on millions of Americans by traveling to the 2012 swing state of North Carolina to chair a meeting of his Jobs Council. The Council is a group of top business executives set up to provide ideas about stirring jobs growth with unemployment at 9.1%.

The president is then due to head to another critical electoral state, Florida, to hold several fundraisers to bolster his campaign coffers as the 2012 presidential race erupts into life, before the November 2012 election.

On June 14, Obama heads to Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, where people are American citizens but cannot vote in general elections -- but have close links to the Puerto Rican diaspora, a fast growing political demographic in Florida.

Obama's distinctly political travel comes as Republicans launch their nominating race for the right to take him on next year with a New Hampshire debate on June 13 certain to including scything attacks on his economic record.

The White House says the visit to North Carolina, which Obama narrowly carried in the 2008 election, and hopes to retain next time, is evidence of his administration's focus on creating jobs.

"This is a group of private sector leaders: business leaders, people running large and small companies, labor leaders; people who represent millions of Americans helping the economy every single day," said Jen Psaki, deputy White House communications director.

The jobs council, headed by GE CEO Jeff Immelt, will be holding its second meeting, and the first outside Washington. The session will be held at Cree, a lighting production company, which the White House sees as an example of U.S. companies investing in future technologies, a trend it sees as vital to reigniting the economic recovery.

Obama aides said the jobs council has a plan to address jobs growth over the short and long term, focusing on high growth sectors, areas of high unemployment and clean energy and health care sectors.

"The U.S. economy is resilient, but the inescapable truth is that we have a persistent jobs challenge that demands an aggressive response," wrote Immelt and American Express CEO Ken Chenault in a Wall Street Journal opinion article on June 13. "That's why earlier this year President Obama asked 26 private-sector leaders to develop ideas that will accelerate job growth and improve America's competitiveness."

"America needs more growth. The United States needs to reverse trends that developed over a long period of time, and the solutions aren't easy politically, socially or economically.

"The economic decisions we make now will determine American job creation and competitiveness in the years to come. Government, business and labor need to work together to get this done."

Political experts say Obama's hopes of winning a second term may depend on a turnaround of the economy, after recent data showed the recovery apparently slowing, with disappointing jobs and manufacturing numbers and evidence the housing market remains moribund.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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