WASHINGTON (CN) – President Obama on Wednesday signed into law a bill to create manufacturing jobs, one of the hardest-hit sectors during the recession. The president said the measure was part of an effort to rebuild an economy that centered around the phrase “Made in America.”
“For too long, we’ve been buying too much from the rest of the world, when we should be selling more to the rest of the world,” Obama told an audience of manufacturers in the East Room. “This is a nation that has always been proud of what it builds.”
The number of workers in manufacturing dropped by one-third over the past decade, largely due to outsourcing of jobs. In June, the nation saw a decline in exports accompanied with a huge increase in imports.
So far this year, the manufacturing sector has added 183,000 jobs, but job growth still has “a long way to go,” Obama said.
“The answer isn’t to stop making things,” Obama said, adding that he had visited American factories that make wind turbines, solar panels, fuel-efficient cars and trucks and advanced batteries.
Obama said the bill, officially titled the Manufacturing Enhancement Act, was designed partly to hasten the economic recovery but also fight off the trend of outsourcing.
The bill makes it cheaper for manufacturers to build things in the United States by reducing tariffs on imported raw material.
The act passed in both the House and the Senate.
Obama has already been focused on bringing jobs back to the United States.
On Tuesday, he signed into law a $26 billion bill for state aid that eliminates tax breaks for companies with operations overseas.
He also recently announced an initiative to double exports over the next five years. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and fastest-growing markets are outside the United States, Obama said.
Obama used the bill signing ceremony to ask Congress to pass extended clean energy manufacturing tax credits, a measure that he said has been “delayed for months.”
Obama is asking for $5 billion to invest in several hundred clean energy projects, which he says will draw in $12 billion in private investments and create tens of thousands of jobs.
“We compete to win,” Obama said of the global clean energy race.
Obama was joined on stage by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative.