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Obama says more investments needed in manufacturing sector

Cass Herrington

President Barack Obama called Indiana and the Midwest “the backbone” of America’s manufacturing industry during his speech in Gibson County Friday.

But he warned that not enough investment in the workforce, particularly the middle class, is keeping the U.S. from reaching its full innovative potential.

Standing in front of shiny rolls of steel, Obama first brought up the numbers that reflect well on his policies. The obvious one being the U.S. Department of Labor’s data showing the country’s jobless rate at 5.9 percent, a six-year-low.

President Obama said there is a number that has remained stagnant, wages -- and minimum wage in particular.  

“And when you look at American history, the times we grow fastest and do best is when we're growing the economy from the middle-out," Obama said.

The President said another part of that investment in the middle class includes education, particularly in preparing the next generation of workers.

“Not everyone wants to sit behind a desk, pushing paper all day long," Obama said. "And if we can set up a situation where high schools are starting to get connected to manufacturing then a lot of young people can get apprenticeships early and realize how interesting some of that work is.”

Toyota’s Princeton plant, is partnering with Vincennes University to do just that.

Toyota Human Resources Manager Tim Hollander said the two-year Advanced Manufacturing Technicians program prepares high school and college students for the job.

“And then as they graduate they have a strong work ethic, a strong work history, they know our processes, they have the education they need to continue to move our company forward," Hollander said. "Those types of programs are critical in today's manufacturing to stay on the cutting edge.”

The U.S. added nearly 700,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010 but hasn’t recovered nearly five million jobs the sector lost between 2000 and 2009.

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