President Barack Obama visited the Triangle on Monday with some of the nation's leading corporate executives in tow, pledging to find ways to accelerate job growth in an economy where high unemployment continues to be a drag on the recovery.
The president heard from a high-powered business group that recommended a series of steps designed to create a million more jobs during the next two years – from deregulation, to speeding up tourist visas, to encouraging construction for energy-efficient projects.
“Today the single most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work,” Obama told employees of Cree, a Durham company that makes LEDs used in energy-efficient lights. “We stabilized the economy. We prevented a financial meltdown. An economy that was shrinking is now growing.
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“But I'm still not satisfied,” Obama said. “I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers some security.”
To help in his task, the president had with him a star-studded cast of CEOs of such companies as General Electric, Southwest Airlines, Eastman Kodak, Comcast, TIAA-CREF, Intel, American Express, DuPont and Citigroup, as well as cabinet secretaries and top economic advisers.
They are members of the Jobs and Competitiveness Council, which Obama appointed in March. This was their second meeting, and May's disappointing unemployment numbers – 9.1 percent nationally and 9.7 percent in North Carolina – seemed to add new urgency to their task.
The 26-member council, headed by Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, offered a series of recommendations address the level of joblessness.
Among the recommendations:
Do a better job of working with community colleges and vocational schools to train workers. There are more than 2 million open jobs in the United States because employers can't find workers with the advanced skills they need.
Graduate 10,000 more engineers each year mainly through the work of public-private consortiums.
Streamline permitting, making it easier to obtain permits for construction and infrastructure projects.
© 2011 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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