Can Obama talks get private sector to hire more?
Job seekers line up at a jobs fair in Winston-Salem, N.C. / CBS
President Barack Obama travels to North Carolina today to talk about jobs.
But is more talk going to change things for people in need of work in the U.S.?
Mr. Obama's head economic adviser Austan Goolsbee thinks so. He said on "The Early Show" from North Carolina Monday that progress is being made.
In the president's talks today with the Jobs Council, Goosbee said about 25 business and labor economists will discuss where there's potential for jobs growth and what the government can do to help the private sector create jobs.
"We've got a long way to go and clearly, we've got to get the hiring rate up," Goolsbee said.
Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said business leaders are working to identify some possible industries, such as manufacturing, travel and tourism and health care, and how the government can help.
Goolsbee noted Mr. Obama was to spend some time at a plant that makes advanced LED light bulbs that's recently announced it's hiring.
He said, "If you start looking around, as we're coming out of the worst downturn since 1929, there are a number of companies that have started making some profits again, and are actually starting to expand."
Co-anchor Chris Wragge noted, however, that while many companies are making profits again, they're not hiring more workers, and instead, are learning to do more with less. Wragge added it's becoming exasperating for many Americans out of work.
Goolsbee said many people are frustrated.
"There's no question, but I think it's the result of the worst downturn in most of our lifetimes," he said. "So, I think we are making progress. Over the last 15 months, the private sector added two million jobs, but this is never going to be easy, and we've got to get going. We've got to accelerate the hiring. The president's the first one to say that."
Goolsbee is leaving his post on the president's council later this summer.
Wragge asked how he feels about moving on at this point in the recovery.
Goolsbee said, "Well, it's definitely moved in the right direction from when we were losing 750,000 jobs a month in a free-fall. But we've got a long way to go. Conditions are tough, so I don't -- I think it's heading in the right direction, but we got a long way to go."
Two other people in desperate need of work appear to think similarly, as CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Chip Reid reported from Durham, N.C.
Ninety minutes west of where Obama was to visit Monday is what remains of North Carolina's once-thriving textile and manufacturing industry.
Stephen Douglas, 55, has been looking for work in the area ever since Dell Computers closed its doors last November.
"It was a nice facility, 750,000 square feet. And it really could have been something," Douglas said. "But they didn't last five years."
The unemployment rate in North Carolina is 9.1 percent - right at the national average.
Thirty miles down the road in East Bend, N.C., Robin Benbow is also one of those out of work.
Benbow said, "I was working for Hanes brands Incorporated in Winston-Salem."
Benbow spent nearly 18 years as a machine operator making tights for Hanes until last July when her job was shipped overseas. Benbow was forced to borrow from her 401K for basics like groceries and gas. She says the jobs are just not there.
Benbow said, "You get to the point where you don't want to go look. What's the point in going when you're going to get shoved right back out the door."
That was the reality for the nearly 2,500 people who showed up at a jobs fair last week in Winston-Salem. Caterpillar is set to open a new $426 million plant next year. They're expecting a total of 4,000 applicants for just 392 jobs. Stephen Douglas was one of those in attendance.
He said, "If you can live till next year in 2012 when the building's built, then maybe you might get a job but 90 percent of the people going over are not gonna get the job. We want to work. But it seems like the only people working is politicians."
Reid added Douglas is going back to school on a grant from Dell. He's graduate next December with a degree in business administration. But, Reid said, even with that degree, there's no guarantee he'll find a job.
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