_WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama kicked off an effort to encourage United States businesses to keep jobs at home instead of outsourcing them overseas, as he rolled out a new election-year theme yesterday aimed at courting middle-class voters.
In his weekly radio and video address, Mr Obama previewed a White House forum on "Insourcing American Jobs" he will hold on Wednesday with business executives to highlight the advantages of investing in the US.
"We'll hear from business leaders who are bringing jobs back home and see how we can help other businesses follow their lead," he said.
Executives from more than a dozen companies will attend.
The emphasis on keeping US jobs at home is in line with a populist economic message championed by Mr Obama that could play well with union workers, whose support the Democratic President will need to win re-election in November.
The White House sees an increasing trend of companies deciding to "insource" jobs and invest in US-based plants and factories, according to a White House official, and it wants to encourage more to follow that trend.
The practice of US companies moving jobs to foreign countries such as India and China, where labour is cheaper, is a source of concern to many US workers.
The issue resonates strongly in Midwest industrial states such as Ohio and Michigan that have been hard hit, not only by the 2007-2009 economic crisis, but also by years of shrinkage in the manufacturing jobs sector.
Many of those states are battlegrounds vital to Mr Obama's re-election hopes.
The White House was encouraged by the December jobs report released on Friday, which showed a drop in the jobless rate to 8.5 per cent, its lowest level in nearly three years.
"We're heading in the right direction. And we're not going to let up," Mr Obama said. REUTERS
Source: TODAY Online