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Obama's Ohio visit points to jobs divide between public, private sector

Obama visited Wednesday with Ohioans who have been helped by government spending. In general, government jobs pay more, have higher benefits, and are more secure than private-sector jobs. Is that a good thing? It depends on your party affiliation, a new TIPP/Monitor poll shows.

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President Obama listens during an informal town hall about the economy in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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In a visit to Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, President Obama met with a family that embodies the interplay between government and the private sector – and the president could cast that relationship in a positive light.

At a time when America's economy is still struggling for traction, Joe Weithman is an architect who has some extra work thanks to federal stimulus spending on a police station. And his wife, Rhonda Weithman, was able to keep her health insurance after a layoff, thanks to federal help that Mr. Obama pushed for.

But this economic portrait, scripted into an outdoor "town hall" between the president and a small group of Ohioans, stands at odds with another reality – tension in some quarters of the electorate over whether private sector taxpayers are are bearing an unfair burden to support bloated government.

According to some studies, public sector workers enjoy higher pay and better benefits than their private-sector counterparts. And, at a time when Americans are seeing tax rates edge up and the level of federal debt soar, public-sector workers also enjoy much greater job security than the private sector.

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