ABC News’ Devin Dwyer and Brian Johnson report:
With his re-election prospects hinging largely on the economy and jobs, President Obama today highlighted what he said is a growing trend under his administration: the “insourcing” of jobs back to America.
“You’ve heard of outsourcing. Well, these companies are insourcing,” Obama said during remarks in the East Room, where he was flanked by U.S. business leaders who’ve committed to keeping work on American shores.
“These companies are choosing to invest in the one country with the most productive workers, best universities, and most creative and innovative entrepreneurs in the world: the United States of America,” he said.
The White House says in a new report that 334,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. over the past two years and that manufacturing production has increased roughly 5.7 percent, the fastest pace in a decade.
Meanwhile, the outsourcing of jobs by U.S. firms has slowed dramatically under Obama, according to the most recent statistical snapshot by the Labor Department.
In 2008, the year before Obama took office, companies laid off more than 11,000 American workers because of “out-of-country relocations” for cheaper, foreign labor. There were 10,300 outsourcing-related layoffs in 2009 and just 5,300 in 2010, according to a BLS report on mass-layoffs published in November.
“Right now, we are at a unique moment, an inflection point, a period where we have opportunity for those jobs to come back – and the business leaders in this room recognize that,” Obama said.
“For example, after shedding jobs for more than a decade, American manufacturers have now added jobs for two years in a row. That’s good news. But when a lot of folks are still looking for work, now is the time for us to step on the gas.”
The unemployment rate stood at 8.5 percent in December with 13.1 million Americans out of work.
Business leaders who met with Obama today gave examples of how they were part of the “insourcing” trend Obama described.
Ford Motor Co. executive Mark Fields told reporters the company plans to invest $16 billion and add 12,000 new American jobs by 2015. “Rather than adding more capacity to our plant where we produce the current model down in Mexico, we are going to take that added capacity and we are going to invest it in our plant in Flatrock, Mich.,” he said.
Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta credited Obama with facilitating new job creation, noting government-funded bailouts for GM and Chrysler, saying the president has been “focused on working people and has been focused on them for some time.”
But Hal Sirkin with Boston Consulting Corp. suggested economics are driving the changes not politics.
“The fundamental economy of the world is changing,” Sirkin said. “It is not about the patriotism, although I know everybody on stage with me here is just as patriotic, but it is about the underlining economics and the economics are favoring the U.S. at this point in time.”
Obama plans to propose “in the next few weeks” a series of new tax breaks for companies to help accelerate the return of jobs to the U.S. and end special tax treatment for those that ship work overseas. Neither he nor administration officials offered further details.
The jobs tact advances a narrative Obama’s re-election campaign seeks to underline in the weeks ahead, particularly in contrast to GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney whose former private equity firm, Bain Capital, reports noted this week had a record of outsourcing jobs.
“I don’t want America to be a nation known for financial speculation and racking up debt buying stuff from other nations,” Obama said. “I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.”