Unemployment fell to a 44-month low in September, dropping to 7.8 percent – its lowest rate since President Obama took office. The Labor Department’s news is positive after months of lackluster jobs data, and could help President Obama in his re-election bid against Mitt Romney in the November presidential elections. Romney charged after Obama in this week’s presidential debate over various aspects of the economy – the number one issue for which the president has been criticized.
But the U.S. can’t just rely on consumer and government spending to keep it strong – exports are key, says Fred Hochberg, president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Obama aims to double the number of American exports in the next few years from 2009 levels; the U.S. is about halfway to that goal. “We’ve made great progress. Exports are more than $2.1 trillion a year – a record,” Hochberg says. Watch Hochberg discuss how increasing U.S. exports helps create jobs and keeps America strong:
Whereas the world used to be driven by the U.S. consumer and the debt this country piled up, Hochberg said, “now the world is much more being driven by – and world economy by – infrastructure, and we sell a lot of that.” Whether it be airplanes, satellites, or medical supplies, the job of the Export-Import Bank is to finance those products into tough markets. And with 90 percent of the bank’s customers being small businesses, a vital component of its job is to help export the services of those small businesses.
Why is Hochberg bullish about the U.S. economy over the next few years despite the fact that many countries are in financial turmoil? Because exports can help make America strong.
“Because of all this infrastructure going in – yes there’s slowdowns in Europe, yes there’s concern about China and India,” he said. But with India, for example, expecting to spend $1 trillion in the next five years on imports, he added, “we can create a lot of jobs in the U.S. … from the exports we’re making to those countries.
“We’re not going to be able to power our economy by consumer spending, government spending and even business investment. The fourth leg of that chair or that table is exports, and that’s where we need to put more efforts.”
According to government unemployment numbers released Friday, the private sector grew by 104,000 workers in September, while governments added 10,000 jobs. Manufacturing, however, shed 16,000 jobs after losing a revised 22,000 in August, and construction jobs grew by 5,000.
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