POLITICS

Obama travels to N.C. to rally support for jobs plan

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama is pushing for a higher minimum wage because he says Americans who work full time should not be in poverty.

The president followed up his call for the increase from $7.25 to $9 an hour in Tuesday night's State of the Union address with a trip to a North Carolina manufacturing plant.

Canadian-based Linamar Corp. opened a former Volvo plant in Asheville that had gone dark and rehired some of its workers. Obama touted it as an example of America attracting jobs from overseas.

He says the key to reviving America's economy is to bring more jobs to the United States, give Americans the skills they need to perform them and provide those workers with a decent living.

Obama will make stops in Atlanta on Thursday and Chicago on Friday.

In his speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, Obama called job creation his "North Star." He asked Congress to focus on attracting jobs to the U.S., training American workers and boosting investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and clean energy. Obama also says he wants to raise the minimum hourly wage from the current $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015.

In his bid to boost manufacturing, Obama is launching three "manufacturing innovation institutes" - partnerships among the private sector, the federal government and colleges "to develop and build manufacturing technologies and capabilities that will help U.S.-based manufacturers and workers create good jobs," according to a White House fact sheet. He is asking Congress to create 15 more institutes.

The proposal is a central element of Obama's plan to spur manufacturing, which has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy. Manufacturing expanded at a much faster pace in January compared with December.

The White House outlined other steps the administration says it will take to continue improvements in manufacturing, which it says added 500,000 jobs the last three years after shedding jobs for more than 10 years.

Among the steps:

-Reforming the business tax code to end tax breaks to ship jobs overseas.

-Expanding a program to help governors and mayors bring in business investment from around the world.

-Strengthening enforcement of trade laws and taking new steps to open markets in Europe and Asia.

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