Obama To Pitch U.S. Exports At New Orleans Port

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Pushing his case for how to increase jobs, President Barack Obama headed to the Gulf Coast where he was to use the backdrop of the Port of New Orleans to press for more government spending on infrastructure projects that can have ripple effects on employment.

Obama was to speak about the need to boost exports and spend more on ports, roads and airports. The White House says infrastructure projects have near- and long-term economic benefits.

Obama in 2010 set a goal of doubling exports by 2015, but the U.S. isn't on track to meet that goal.

Obama left for Louisiana shortly after the federal government reported that employers in October added a surprising 204,000 jobs to the economy, surpassing glum expectations that the partial government shutdown would have dampened hiring. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent in September, partly because many furloughed workers were temporarily counted as unemployed.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, said the uptick in unemployment caused by the shutdown was the kind of "self-inflicted wounds that our economy needs to avoid."

"One common sense way that we can put people back to work would be investing in modernizing our nation's infrastructure," Earnest said.

Modernizing the Port of New Orleans, he said, is one example that would not only increase construction jobs, but also improve employment indirectly because the port is an important import and export point for international trade.

After his speech, Obama plans to fly to the Miami area for three Democratic fundraisers. He'll stay overnight in Florida.

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