Geithner highlights signs of strength in US economy

April 4, 2012 2:21:29 PM PDT
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner delivered a positive message about the economy Wednesday in Chicago.

Geithner was the keynote speaker at the Economic Club of Chicago breakfast. Then he toured Ford's stamping plant on the city's South Side with Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to highlight the importance of manufacturing.

The Chicago Heights Ford plant will add 100 new jobs and the nearby Chicago assembly plant is adding 1,100 new positions.

"American manufacturing is on the rebound," Jackson said. "And when one considers three short years ago the automotive industry was in near collapse and the Ford plant is not only expanding but we're adding another shift here."

"We have seen an upturn," Mary Culler, Ford. "We certainly appreciate that the administration has been supportive of the auto industry. And we've certainly invested in our plants and we made commitments early on that helped us weather the storm."

During Wednesday's breakfast, Geithner noted local signs of economic recovery.

"I see the competitive playing field shifting in our favor, and that's a really encouraging thing," he said. "So I'm going to Ford - and I do this across the country - to get a better feel for how things are going the economy and autos are really very strong right now."

Geithner said the nation's recovery needs more bipartisan support in Washington to balance budget cuts with spending.

"The economy is getting stronger because of those policies, and we have a lot of work to do but it is important to point out to people where there are signs of strength," he said.

Some in attendance share the secretary's optimism and opinion that more needs to be done.

"It was also great to remind us of how far we've come and how much stronger the economy has been getting and how people are starting to be employed again, and this idea that people don't understand how strong this economic recovery really is," said John Rogers of Ariel Investments.

"People are still challenged, the housing market is still really tight," said Andrea Zopp of the Chicago Urban League. "It's improving slowly but that means any harsh decisions would not be good."

"People having jobs, it's crucial, that's the bedrock of our economy," said John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Consumers are more confident. There's less insecurity about jobs and that makes for the kind of growth we need."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced Geithner at the Economic Club of Chicago breakfast. He recalled their time spent in Washington in the Clinton and Obama administrations. The mayor also applauded action by his former boss, President Obama, to boost economic activity during the recession.

The new hires at Ford are expected to come on in the next four months and much of the new demand comes from the new police interceptors.