Obama: Workers not winning as productivity fuels growth

President Barack Obama said that while the economic recovery is lowering the jobless rate, the economic recovery is helping the wealthy and not middle-class workers.

“There’s still a lot of folks having trouble paying the bills,” he said Friday at a steel plant in Princeton in southwest Indiana. “Wages and incomes have not moved up as fast as all the gains we’re making in productivity.”

As a result, he said, “too much of the wealth is going to the very top.”

Companies aren’t giving their workers raises because “frankly, they don’t have to” as the job market remains soft. At the same time, he said some companies are using overseas addresses to dodge taxes, money that could be used for infrastructure projects that create jobs.

Obama spoke hours after the Labor Department announced the U.S. unemployment rate in September fell to a six-year low, dropping more than analysts had expected. The rate's decline also was helped  by the fact that nearly 100,000 people stopped looking for work.

The president is highlighting the improving economy in the month leading up to the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

On the same day as Obama’s appearance at Millennium Steel Service LLC, the White House announced a $200 million publicly and privately funded competition to create a Defense Department- led photonics manufacturing institute. Photonics is the science of the technical applications of light across the entire spectrum.

Millennium, based in Princeton, is the largest black-owned business in southwestern Indiana. Obama has spoken in the past week to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, seeking to turn out overwhelmingly Democratic minority voters next month.

The company supplies steel to automakers, including a nearby Toyota Motor Corp. plant, and automotive parts suppliers. As part of his stump speech, Obama routinely cites the recovery of the U.S. auto industry as a success of his administration.

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