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,”
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.
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.
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.
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 Innovation
American entrepreneurship and ingenuity has defined our country and our economy since our founding: it is our brand. Leveraging that brand at a time when other countries are making investments to emulate our success and out-compete us on the global stage is an imperative of the Obama Administration. The historic $80 billion Recovery Act investment in clean energy research, development, and deployment is accelerating technology breakthroughs and new market opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs. A whole industry around advanced battery manufacturing is taking hold as a result: within the next five years, we will go from producing 2 percent of tomorrow’s batteries to 40 percent. Additionally, the tax cut signed into law by the President in 2010 gave a two-year extension of the research and development (R&D) tax credit and other tax incentives to support business expansion. Studies have shown that every $1 of R&D adds about $2 of benefit to our economy and society as a whole. These are smart investments that spur game changing ideas.
Intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), according to the March 2012 U.S. Commerce Department study, Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus. At least 75 industries make use of patent, copyright, or trademark protection. Some of the most patent-intensive industries are found in the technology space, including computers and peripherals; communications equipment; semiconductors; and medical equipment.
In September, President Obama signed the America Invents Act, which was passed with the President’s strong leadership, after nearly a decade of legislative efforts. This legislation is the most significant reform of the patent system since 1952. It reflects strong bipartisan cooperation and Congress working together on behalf of American innovation. Businesses, inventors, and entrepreneurs are already benefiting from reforms launched by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following America Invents Act’s passage, including a fast-track option for processing patent applications in less than a year, and significant reductions in the backlog of pending patent applications. In addition, the America Invents Act has allowed the U.S. to resume its place as the world leader in patent processing and harmonization, which will help U.S. intellectual property owners compete in the global marketplace.
Businesses, inventors, and entrepreneurs are already benefiting from reforms launched by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following America Invents Act’s passage, including a fast-track option for processing patent applications in less than a year, discounts for small businesses, and significant reductions in the backlog of pending patent applications. In addition, the America Invents Act has allowed the U.S. to resume its place as the world leader in patent processing and harmonization, which—by easing the process by which IP rights are acquired in different jurisdictions—will help U.S. intellectual property businesses compete in the global marketplace.
Investing in American Manufacturing
In addition to leading the world in innovation, America has always been a country where people made things. The manufacturing sector has been hard hit in this economic crisis. That is why President Obama stood by the auto industry, saving a million jobs in communities across the country [link to autos page]. Because of investments like these, the manufacturing sector is one of the “green shoots” in this economic recovery. More than 250,000 manufacturing jobs have been added over the past 17 months of private sector job growth.
The Obama Administration wants American manufacturers to compete in the 21st Century. That is why we launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort that brings industry, universities, and the federal government together to create high-quality manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.
The President’s plan, which leverages existing programs and proposals, will invest more than $500 million to jumpstart this effort. These investments will build domestic manufacturing capabilities in critical national security industries and reduce the time needed to make the advanced materials used in manufacturing products. Additionally, we will invest in next-generation robotics, increase energy efficiency in the manufacturing process and develop new technologies that will dramatically reduce the time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods.
Investing in Infrastructure
As President Obama made clear in his 2011 State of the Union address that we must ensure the U.S. has the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information to maintain our competitive edge. Part of that commitment is to invest in infrastructure to create jobs today and out-compete the world tomorrow. Well-targeted infrastructure investments create both immediate and long-term economic benefits. Those benefits accrue not only where the infrastructure is located but also to communities all across the country.
The American Jobs Act will put Americans back to work in key areas that are central to America’s future competitiveness. It will repair and modernize classrooms across the country and make sure that teachers who have been laid off because of budget cuts can be brought back to work. It will take on the fact that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded the United States a ‘D’ for the overall condition of its infrastructure.
But it is not just our roads, rail and bridges. In a 21st Century economy, we also have to invest in our broadband and wireless infrastructure. The Recovery Act contained $7.2 billion in broadband and wireless Internet infrastructure. These investments are already yielding benefits to businesses and consumers and unleashing innovation across the country.
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.