KEN THOMASWASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ President Barack Obama is highlighting companies that have returned jobs to the U.S. and he says that's one more way of putting people back to work. The White House plans a forum Wednesday, called "Insourcing American Jobs," that will bring together business leaders who shifted work back home. The president said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address that the event will discuss ways business leaders can return more jobs to the country. "We're heading in the right direction. And we're not going to let up," Obama said on the heels of the government reporting Friday that the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in December. Obama noted that the jobs report showed the economy added more than 200,000 private sector jobs last month and that more than 3 million private sector jobs had been added during the past 22 months. He said the nation was "starting 2012 with manufacturing on the rise and the American auto industry on the mend." The president said the U.S. couldn't return "to the days when the financial system was stacking the deck against ordinary Americans," citing his decision to install former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the Senate was on break, circumventing Republican opposition to the appointment. Obama said his "New Year's resolution" to all Americans was to "keep doing whatever it takes to move this economy forward and to make sure that middle-class families regain the security they've lost over the past decade." New York Rep. Nan Hayworth, delivering the GOP address, said the jobs report showed the difficulty that many Americans face in finding work. Hayworth said the unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent for 35 straight months, "the longest such stretch since the Great Depression."
"Leaders in Washington should have no higher priority this year than getting our economy back to creating jobs," Hayworth said.The New York congresswoman said House Republicans would promote small business and reduce government regulation. ___ Online: Obama address: www.whitehouse.gov GOP address: http://www.youtube.com/HouseConference