U.S. President Barack Obama will urge business leaders next week to keep jobs at home rather than outsourcing their industries abroad.
Obama announced in his weekly address that he will host a forum at the White House Wednesday. He will meet with business leaders who are setting an example of "insourcing" jobs. The president says he wants to help other businesses follow their lead.
"After losing more than eight million jobs in the recession, we've added more than three million private-sector jobs over the past 22 months," Obama said. "And we're starting 2012 with manufacturing on the rise and the American auto industry on the mend. We're heading in the right direction. And we're not going to let up."
Obama says he will do whatever it takes to move the economy forward, calling it his New Year's resolution.
The push for creating jobs in the U.S. falls in line with Obama's pledge to rebuild and stabilize the American middle class. The middle class could play a key role in whether he gets re-elected this year.
Republican presidential candidates have harshly criticized the president for not doing enough to jump-start the economy.
In the weekly Republican address Saturday, Representative Nan Hayworth of New York criticized the Obama administration for the country's high unemployment rate. She said unemployment has been above eight percent for 35 months. She called it "the longest such stretch since the Great Depression."
She said leaders in Washington should have "no higher priority" this year than creating jobs and called on the Democratic-led Senate to pass jobs bills already approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. She said the proposals will address excessive regulations, encourage entrepreneurship and make Washington live within its means.
Despite criticism of the administration, last month's employment numbers marked an improvement on the jobs front. The government announced Friday that the economy had a net gain of 200,000 jobs in December.
The Labor Department report said the jobless rate dropped to 8.5 percent, the lowest level since early 2009.
All the job gains were in the private sector, particularly transportation, retail, manufacturing and health care. Employment continued falling in state and local governments, which cut another 12,000 jobs.
This is the sixth month in a row that the economy has gained at least 100,000 jobs, but those gains have not yet made up for the eight million jobs lost during the recession.
President Obama welcomed the improved job picture, saying 2011 saw more employment gains than any year since 2005. But he also said millions of Americans are still out of work, and many families and small businesses "are hurting." In a Washington speech Friday, Obama said "we still have work to do."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.