•Boosting home-grown energy: Obama repeated his call for an “all-of-the-above” approach to expanding domestic energy production and reducing reliance on foreign oil. Economists say this effort has already been a successful job creator, although some say Obama’s focus is too tilted toward renewable and not enough toward oil and natural gas.
Energy experts say Obama set a realistic goal of doubling renewable electricity generation by 2020. (The president calls for a permanent tax credit to promote sources such as wind and solar.) The White House plan also calls for using some federal oil revenue to finance “shifting our cars and trucks off oil.”
•Another infrastructure push: With the Recovery Act stimulus spent, Obama called for $50 billion more in spending on things like roads and bridges – saying it will make the US a more attractive place for businesses while also creating construction jobs. Some economists say this “frontloading” of infrastructure work, at a time of jobs dearth, makes sense. But the idea also has critics who say it’s unnecessary and unlikely to do much for job growth.
•Immigration reform: This Obama priority isn’t all about jobs, but the White House plan says the goals include reforming the system for legal immigration to attract more “highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will create jobs and grow our economy.” Many economists support this goal, calling it a way to boost entrepreneurship – benefiting native born Americans – without much cost.
•Honing innovation: Because of global competition and the technological changes that allow products to be made by ever-fewer people, factories, by themselves, can no longer supply middle-class jobs. So the president is calling for a “one-time $1 billion investment” to create a network of “manufacturing innovation institutes” to cultivate and spread best practices.
But manufacturing remains an important part of the overall economy, with relatively high wage jobs and the ability to spawn spin-off employment in surrounding communities.