Obama to Name Ex-Banker to Manufacturing Post

Bloom will serve as senior counselor for manufacturing policy.

President Barack Obama has named an ex-investment banker who has helped drive the turnaround in the U.S. auto sector as his top advisor on manufacturing, the White House said Sunday.

Ron Bloom will serve as senior counselor for manufacturing policy and "provide leadership on policy development and strategic planning for the president's agenda to revitalize the manufacturing sector," the White House said in a statement.

Bloom also will continue in his capacity as part of the auto industry task force that has overseen U.S. government aid to the auto sector, which is contingent on a long-term viability plan for the troubled manufacturers.

He was named senior advisor to the Treasury Secretary on the presidents auto task force in February.

The announcement of Blooms newest role came days after Obama hailed the first growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector after 18 punishing months of decline as a sign of recovery and proof his economic policies were working.

The Institute of Supply Management said last week its index of the factory sector, also known as the purchasing managers index, jumped to 52.9% from 48.9% in July. Any number above 50 indicates growth.

"Last week we learned that our manufacturing sector expanded for the first time in 18 months and had the highest monthly output in two years. It's a sign that we're on the right track to economic recovery, but that we still have a long way to go," Obama said in a statement released Sunday. "That's why I've asked Ron Bloom to help coordinate my administration's manufacturing policy.

"Distinguished by his extraordinary service on the auto task force and his extensive experience with both business and labor, Ron has the knowledge and experience necessary to lead the way in creating the good-paying manufacturing jobs of the future."

Bloom is a one-time investment banker who joined labor and helped restructure the U.S. steel industry.

He was a special adviser to the United Steelworkers union as that industry underwent a painful reorganization and several bankruptcies.

Manufacturing has been emerging from its slump as companies replenish stockpiles from big production cuts over the past few months, and from a resurgence in auto sales, lifted by government incentives in the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumer spending has been sluggish and unemployment has been rising.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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