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Obama to tout manufacturing gains, highlight economic progress

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about expanding economic opportunity for women and working families, during a visit to Valencia College i
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about expanding economic opportunity for women and working families, during a visit to Valencia College i

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will seek to highlight gains in advanced manufacturing in the United States during a trip to Pennsylvania on Tuesday as he tries to show how his administration is boosting economic growth without help from Republicans in Congress.

Obama is due to announce efforts to make it easier for people who want to start or expand manufacturing businesses to avail themselves of government equipment and research. He will also reveal plans for five government agencies to spend $150 million to produced sophisticated materials that have promising commercial applications.

During a visit to TechShop, a do-it-yourself workshop and business incubator in Pittsburgh, the president will draw attention to ways manufacturing gains have helped advance economic growth.

A White House report notes that manufacturing output has increased 30 percent since the end of the 2007-2009 recession, and that the sector has added jobs at the fastest rate in nearly two decades.

The administration has devoted substantial energy to supporting manufacturing, arguing it is the key to building well-paying jobs in the United States in a competitive global economy. Obama has launched a series of manufacturing hubs aimed at revitalizing America's industrial sector and spurring employment in economically depressed communities.

However, faced with opposition from Republicans who control the House of Representatives, Obama has next to no hope of advancing his policy goals through legislation and has instead pursued a more limited agenda through executive actions.

The president further will have a hard time getting his message of an improving economic outlook across to a skeptical public.

Despite economic gains such as the steady addition of jobs and a rising stock market, polls show Americans doubtful about economic prospects. A Gallup survey last week showed that one in three say economic conditions are poor while only one in five view the economy as excellent or good, and more than half - 54 percent - perceive the economy to be getting worse.

The fast deteriorating situation in Iraq could also overshadow Obama's efforts to draw attention to ingenious technologies. As extremists seized control of the north of the country, the president on Monday notified Congress of the deployment of up to 275 combat-ready troops to Baghdad to safeguard U.S. interests there.

Obama met with national security advisers late on Monday to review options for dealing with the security crisis in Iraq, where U.S. troops pulled out in 2011 after an eight-year war.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Ken Wills)

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