- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

President Obama traveled Friday to central Pennsylvania to tell residents and business leaders that economic help is coming to the region, where high unemployment began long before the recession.

“The recession is a new challenge to something that has been going on for a decade,” Mr. Obama said at a town-hall style meeting in Schnecksville — part of the rusted Lehigh Valley region where many manufacturing plants are either shuttered or underutilized.

Though the global economy has shifted largely from manufacturing to information technology, Mr. Obama said, Pennsylvania towns can still create new jobs by redeveloping their infrastructure to meet new demands and by pursuing jobs related to “green” technology.

The president also told the hundreds who assembled at Lehigh Carbon Community College that on Tuesday he will present Congress with a detailed plan on how to “jump start” hiring in the private sector.

The plan is expected to include more government spending on infrastructure and tax credits for businesses that create new jobs.

The president delivered his speech and answered questions several hours after the Labor Department reported the November unemployment rate had dropped to 10 percent, from 10.2 in October, and that the economy shed only 11,000 jobs in November — the smallest monthly amount since the recession began in December 2007.

“That’s good news for this season of hope,” Mr. Obama said. “But we’ve still got a long way to go.”

He also warned of “struggles and setback,” amid criticism that his economic-bailout plan has done little to stem layoffs — the worst in the U.S. since the 1930s.

On Wednesday, the president made good on a pledge to take advice from outside of Washington by holding a White House jobs summit that included input from academics, corporate executives, union leaders and local-government officials.

Before the speech Friday, Mr. Obama visited the Allentown Metal Works where the talked with workers.

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