Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

“It is our generation’s task, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth —
a rising, thriving middle class,”

— President Barack Obama

Jobs & The Economy: Putting America Back to Work

Business in America News

  • National Small Business Week Starts Today

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on SBA.gov. See the original post here. Read the statement by the President on National Small Business Week here.

    This week, America’s celebrates the difference-makers in our economy as we kickoff National Small Business Week today at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.

    You can watch the live stream of our kickoff event starting at 11:40 a.m. EST at www.sba.gov/nsbw.

    This year, we’re hosting events in San Francisco, Kansas City, Boston, and Washington D.C., as well as a special online forum on Wednesday. Our events, workshops and panels all week long will be live-streamed at www.sba.gov/nsbw. Friday we’ll announce our National Small Business of the Year in the nation’s capital, so you’ll want to log on for that.

    This country’s 28 million small businesses create nearly two out of three jobs in our economy, so we can’t have a conversation about creating jobs and economic growth in America without talking about ways to support our entrepreneurs.

    National Small Business Week is a time to make sure our entrepreneurs know about the services the SBA offers. And it’s a week to encourage consumers to give a local business a try – or to order online from a small, Internet-based business.

  • New DOL-SBA Website Encourages Entrepreneurship

    Note: This is a cross post from the Department of Labor's blog. To see the original post, please click here.

    The entrepreneurial spirit is what drives this country. In fact, small businesses and start-ups are responsible for creating two out of every three new jobs in the United States. And more than half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. That’s why helping to create an environment where more businesses are easily able to start and succeed has been an important goal for this administration.

    Today, our agencies — the Small Business Administration and Department of Labor — teamed up for another step forward on this path, announcing a new website to help states offer Self-Employment Assistance programs to those looking to create jobs in their communities. Self-Employment Assistance provides Unemployment Insurance recipients interested in starting a business with financial assistance, critical entrepreneurial training and resources to get those businesses off the ground.

    On the website, you’ll find model legislation that your state can use to enact these programs, as well as a new online toolkit from the Small Business Administration, which offers courses and training on how to start a business. “How to Prepare a Business Plan” and “Franchising Basics” are just a few of the courses that are offered to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. There are also courses on obtaining money for small businesses, entrepreneurship and business planning, entrepreneurial marketing, developing entrepreneurial work styles, as well as a host of other topics including accounting, marketing, legal facets, sales and taxes.

  • A New Front Door for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    Yesterday marked the launch of Entrepreneur Pathways, an online resource center that gives immigrant entrepreneurs an intuitive way to navigate opportunities to start and grow a business in the United States. This new resource was announced during a visit to MIT’s entrepreneurship center by Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal agency responsible for administering visa programs.

    Immigrant entrepreneurs have always made extraordinary contributions to our Nation’s economic growth and competitiveness, creating jobs and new businesses all across the country. Immigrants started 25 percent of the highest-growth companies in America, including iconic success stories like Intel, Google, Yahoo, and eBay, which together employ an estimated 220,000 people within the United States.

    President Obama is committed to attracting the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs to start the next great companies here in the United States, and Entrepreneur Pathways is an important and concrete next step to facilitating that. For example, imagine that an entrepreneur from another country participates in a startup mentorship program in the United States, raises a first round of funding from investors, and wants to stay here to grow the company and hire more people.  Entrepreneur Pathways explains, in plain English, which existing visa categories might be available to that entrepreneur under current law, and what evidence would be necessary to demonstrate eligibility.

  • Making It Easier for American Firms to Do Business in Africa

    Editor’s Note: Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez on Wednesday announced the launch of the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in Johannesburg, South Africa. This campaign is part of a larger U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which President Obama issued earlier this year. This campaign will leverage the federal government’s trade promotion, financing and strategic communications capabilities to help U.S. businesses identify and seize opportunities in Africa, and to help them overcome any challenges they face to establishing business relationships with Africa. This is a cross post from the International Trade Administration's blog.  

    Now is a great time to do business in Africa. Consider these stats, highlighted this week in remarks given by Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank:

    • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world.
    • Economic growth in the region is predicted to be strong – between 5 and 6 percent – in coming years.
    • And – most importantly – millions of Africans are finding a path from poverty to greater opportunity and prosperity.

    This progress is good news for our friends in Africa; it’s also good news for American businesses. As these numbers show, the growing African market is an increasingly attractive destination for quality products and services. It just so happens that goods that are “Made in America” are the best in the world. Now, we just need to link this supply with the demand, and make it easier for U.S. firms to operate in the dynamic African market.

    One important effort towards achieving this goal: the “Doing Business in Africa” (DBIA) campaign which I launched with Acting Secretary Blank in South Africa this week.

  • Weekly Address: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy

    President Obama says that it’s time for Congress to pass the middle class tax cuts for 98 percent of all Americans. Both parties agree that this will give 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses the certainty that will lead to growth, and so there is no reason to wait. On Tuesday, the American people voted for compromise and action, and the President calls on Congress to come together in that spirit to help create jobs and strengthen our economy.

     Transcript  |  Download mp4  |  Download mp3

  • Administration Teams Up to Bring Jobs Back to America

    Yesterday, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor announced the Make it in America Challenge – a $40 million multi-agency competition that will help accelerate business investments in the U.S. This includes insourcing, where U.S.-based companies bring jobs back, or foreign investment, when foreign companies build factories here and hire American workers to run them.  

    The competition is being funded by Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. It builds upon the administration’s efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs by partnering with state, regional, and local partners. 

    Beginning next year, three-year grants will be available to states, cities, nonprofits, colleges and economic development districts that develop plans to help attract companies that want to build in the U.S. but might need a few more resources.

  • Administration's Efforts to Promote Travel and Tourism Are Working

    The Obama Administration's number one priority is to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and restore economic security for the middle class. One way to help strengthen the economy is to make the U.S. the top destination for international visitors. Since the President issued an Executive Order in January and the National Travel and Tourism Strategy was subsequently released by this Administration in May, the Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State have put a priority on expanding travel to and within the U.S., while remaining vigilant in protecting our national security.

    Today, we learned that these efforts are working. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that international visitors spent an estimated $13.7 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month of July--$350 million (3 percent) more than was spent in July 2011. Travel and tourism-related exports have increased, on average, more than $1.1 billion a month during the first seven months of 2012.

    Also today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released estimates for the second quarter 2012 from their Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts. These accounts present a detailed picture of travel and tourism activity and its role in the U.S. economy, including estimates of spending by travelers in six categories of goods and service as well as estimates of the employment generated by travel and tourism and related industries. Today's data reveal that real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2012 after increasing 4.9 percent (revised) in the first quarter of 2012, supporting 7.6 million jobs.

    Recent visitors can access the newly redesigned recreation.gov, the federal government's one-stop shop for trip planning and reservations on public lands, such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests and recreation areas. This year alone, more than 6 million people have visited the site to learn more about exploring America's great outdoors. A key feature of the new site is suggested travel itineraries to several top destinations for international visitors - Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These pre-planned circuits encourage travelers to expand their itineraries by one or more days to take in lesser-known destinations. Longer visits and more expansive itineraries will translate to more tourism dollars and more jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry throughout the U.S.

  • Patent Reform: Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of the America Invents Act

    On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law one of the most significant legislative reforms to the patent system in our Nation’s history. The America Invents Act was passed with the President’s strong leadership last year, after nearly a decade of effort. 

    A year later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is implementing the legislation in a manner that makes it easier for American entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their inventions to the marketplace sooner, converting their ideas into new products and new jobs. It will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation.

    As a number of important provisions of the law go into effect this week, we can already see substantial progress towards the law’s goals. Patent applications filed today will take nearly 40 percent less time to receive an initial patentability determination on their innovation compared to January 2009. The new Track One program provides a fast-track option for processing within 12 months, and offers discounts for small inventors. And the backlog of patent applications has been reduced to its lowest point in years. The USPTO’s continued focus on improving patent quality will be aided by new trial proceedings that provide an affordable alternative to litigation to review the merits of existing patents.  A final decision in each case will be issued in less than a year. The USPTO has also published for review a proposed fee schedule that will expand an existing 50 percent discount on patent application fees for small entities. A new program for micro-entities—individuals or very small enterprises— offers a 75 percent fee discount.  A USPTO-driven pro bono program—launched first in Minnesota and now being introduced in Colorado and California, with many more locations on tap for 2013—helps cash-strapped inventors receive the legal help they need to obtain patents.The USPTO will also open new satellite offices in Denver, Silicon Valley, and Dallas-Fort Worth, in addition to the first satellite office in Detroit, Michigan that opened in July 2012. These offices will help further reduce the patent application backlog and help local innovators raise capital and get their inventions to market more rapidly.

  • The Employment Situation in August

    While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to support the elements of the American Jobs Act that have not yet passed, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders. To build on the progress of the last few years, President Obama has also proposed an extension of middle class tax cuts that would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase next year. 

    Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 103,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 96,000. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 30 straight months, for a total of 4.6 million jobs during that period.

    The household survey showed that the unemployment rate declined from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent in August. 

    Employment rose notably in leisure and hospitality (+34,000), professional and business services (+28,000), health care and social assistance (+21,700), and wholesale trade (+7,900). Manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs, including a 7,500 drop in motor vehicles and parts, which is partly payback for there having been relatively few seasonal auto plant shutdowns in July.  Over the past 30 months, manufacturers have added more than 500,000 jobs.  Government lost 7,000 jobs, as state government payrolls fell by 6,000 and local governments shed 4,000 jobs. Since February 2010, State and local governments have lost 504,000 jobs.

  • White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum Talks Transportation Infrastructure

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from The Fast Lane -- the blog of the Department of Transportation. 

    Yesterday, I joined several of my DOT colleagues for a White House Business Council forum on American Economic Competitiveness focused on transportation infrastructure. It was great to sit down with businessmen and women from across the country; listen to their concerns and ideas; and discuss the Administration's initiatives on economic development, freight and passenger movement, and infrastructure financing.

    It was exciting to meet with business leaders who understand that our transportation policies affect their bottom lines, and we heard over and over yesterday that transportation is an important priority for local chambers of commerce and their members.

    Without freight corridors --whether air, sea, river, road, or rail-- businesses can't get access to raw materials or move their products to market. Without adequate transportation, employees can't get to their jobs and can't travel to meet distant vendors and customers to help grow their enterprises.

  • International Traveler Spending On Pace For a Record Setting Year

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from commerce.gov. 

    Travel and tourism spending by international visitors is helping to boost the U.S. economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce released data yesterday showing that international visitors have spent an estimated $82.2 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services year to date, an increase of 11 percent when compared to the same period last year. Many people do not know that this boosts exports – when foreign citizens travel to America and buy goods and services from American companies, that counts as a U.S. export. The new data indicate that the first half of 2012 set a new record for U.S. travel and tourism exports, and, if these trends continue, international visitors could end up injecting close to $170 billion into the U.S. economy by year-end.

    These increases help explain why the Obama administration is working hard to make the United States the top destination for international travelers. The U.S. Departments of Commerce and Interior are implementing the National Travel and Tourism Strategy, which they presented to the President in May. The National Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the U.S., setting out the goal of attracting over 100 million international visitors annually by 2021, more than a 50 percent increase over the number expected this year. These international visitors would spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country.

  • Redoubling Efforts to Support American Manufacturing

    I just returned from the White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum on Manufacturing, where I had an opportunity to hear from a group of American manufacturers—representing businesses of all sizes from across the country—about how the Obama Administration can continue to support them as they build things here and sell them everywhere. As we have seen in recent months, manufacturing is one of the bright spots for our economy. Over the past two and a half years, more than half-a-million manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. – the strongest job growth in that sector since the 1990s. In fact, just last month, an additional 25,000 new manufacturing jobs were added. 

    In terms of production, manufacturing output is up 20 percent since 2009, and increased again in July. One manufacturing sector that has been consistently strong is the motor vehicles and parts industry, which has added 165,000 jobs since June 2009— a sector that might not even exist in the U.S. today if not for the assistance this Administration gave to the U.S. auto industry in 2009. 

    This matters because we know that manufacturing jobs are good jobs that pay more than average and provide greater benefits. They strengthen economic security for middle class families. 

  • Assistance for Small Businesses Affected by the Drought

    Ed note: this post was originally published on SBA.gov, the official site of the U.S. Small Business Administration

    Yesterday, I attended a meeting of the White House Rural Council, which focused on our coordinated response to historic drought conditions that are affecting communities across Rural America.

    Our goal at the SBA and across the Administration is making sure that these hard hit communities have the tools and the resources they need to navigate and recover from these severe drought conditions.

    To date, the SBA has issued 71 agency drought declarations in 32 states covering more than 1,630 counties. These declarations allow small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-farm small businesses that are economically affected by the drought in their community to apply for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

    To find out if your county has been declared a drought disaster area, view SBA's current disaster declarations page. And to learn more about how to apply for a disaster loan, go to the SBA Disaster Assistance section of the SBA Web site.

  • Travel and Tourism Industry Vital to Job Creation

    Earlier this week I joined Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for a dialogue with leaders within the travel and tourism industry at the White House Business Council American Economic Competitiveness Forum. We held a very useful discussion about how the Administration can continue to help support travel and tourism and the millions of jobs associated with the industry.

    Travel and tourism has been a particularly bright spot in our economic growth over the past two years. I recently announced that 2012 will likely be another record year for international travel to the U.S. In fact, in May 2012 international travel to the U.S. reached nearly $14 billion – up 8% from May 2011. That caps 29 straight months of growth. Many people do not realize that international travel to the U.S. counts as an export, since foreign citizens purchase U.S. goods and services when they travel here.  Hence, the travel and tourism industry has been a critical factor in the increase of export-supported jobs, which have grown by 1.2 million from 2009-2011.

    We can build on this momentum by strengthening public-private partnerships with the industry, which is the core of the new National Travel and Tourism Strategy. Already, we’ve reinvigorated the Tourism Policy Council – a Commerce-led team involving a dozen agencies that touch on travel and tourism. Also, the Trade and Tourism Advisory Board – involving many of the people at this Forum – has never been more active.  In fact, they contributed many great ideas as we wrote the Strategy.

  • President Obama Continues the Push for Middle Class Tax Cuts

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on extending tax cuts for the middle class (August 3, 2012)

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on extending tax cuts for the middle class, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, South Court Auditorium, Aug. 3, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

    Unless the the House of Representatives takes action before January 1, a typical middle-class family of four will see their taxes go up by $2,200 in the coming year.

    President Obama is fighting to prevent that from happening, and today, he again pushed lawmakers to get this done.

    "What we should do right now is give middle-class families and small business owners a guarantee that their taxes will not go up next year," he said. "When families have the security of knowing that their taxes won’t go up they’re more likely to spend, and more likely to grow the economy. When small business owners have certainty on taxes and can plan ahead they’re more likely to hire and create new jobs. And that benefits all of us."

  • Advance Estimate of GDP for the Second Quarter of 2012 and Annual Revision

    Today’s report shows that the economy posted its twelfth straight quarter of positive growth, as real GDP (the total amount of goods and services produced in the country) grew at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter of this year, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Over the last three years, the economy has expanded by 6.7 percent overall, and the private components of GDP have grown by 9.9 percent.  While the economy continues to move in the right direction, additional growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the deep recession that began at the end of 2007

    With today’s report, the BEA also released its annual revisions back to 2009.  While the revisions did not meaningfully change the pace of growth over that entire period, it is noteworthy that State and local government purchases were revised up in 2009, which is consistent with the Recovery Act cushioning the effect of the recession and helping to launch the recovery.  Since the Recovery Act funds have been phasing out, however, declining State and local government activity has subtracted from GDP.  Indeed, today’s report indicates that State and local government purchases have declined for 11 straight quarters, the longest streak ever recorded since the official record of quarterly data began in 1947.  

    To strengthen economic growth and increase job creation, President Obama has proposed to Congress a plan that would help State and local governments retain and hire teachers and first responders, assist the construction sector and economy of tomorrow by rebuilding and modernizing our Nation’s infrastructure, and would give small businesses tax cuts to encourage them to increase payroll.  President Obama also proposed extending tax cuts to protect middle class families and virtually every small business owner from getting a tax increase at the beginning of next year.  The Senate passed the President’s plan this week and President Obama has said that as soon as the House will act he will sign it right away in order to give certainty and security to middle class families. Extending these tax cuts would provide more certainty for the economy for 98 percent of American families and 97 percent of small business owners. 

  • SBA Stands Ready to Help More Veterans Start (and Grow) a Business

    Ed. Note: This article was first published on SBA.gov

    Today, more than 250,000 service members are transitioning each year from the military to civilian life. These men and women are proven leaders and they have the skills and experience needed to be outstanding business leaders. Veterans over-index in entrepreneurship. One in seven veterans are self-employed or small business owners, and about one quarter of veterans say they are interested in starting or buying their own business. 

    That’s why all across the Administration we are focused on making sure that these brave individuals have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

    In his speech to the VFW in Reno, President Obama highlighted the valor and the sacrifice of our nation’s military. And the important role that we have as a nation in making sure that these men and women are able to seamlessly transition back into their communities.

  • An American Renaissance in Manufacturing Happening In Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri

    Ed note: this post was originally published on The Commerce Blog, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Commerce

    I am back in my home state of Missouri today, so it is even more of a treat to witness firsthand the resurgence in American manufacturing.  I visited two manufacturers today – the A. ZAHNER Company, in Kansas City, and Environmental Dynamics International (EDI), in Columbia – and had the chance to talk to some remarkable  local businesses leaders and entrepreneurs in both cities.

    Under President Obama’s leadership, and with the hard work of businesses and workers like those here in Missouri, our private sector has now seen 28 straight months of job growth – 4.4 million jobs. Of course, there is more work to be done, but we are making progress in critical areas. Over the last two and a half years, we’ve seen the strongest growth in manufacturing jobs since the 1990s. Missouri alone has gained nearly 9,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2010.

    On top of that, manufacturers in states like Missouri are realizing that investing here at home is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Many businesses – both here and abroad – are deciding to keep jobs here, bring jobs back to the U.S., or to set up operations here for the first time—a trend called “insourcing.”

    We need to do everything possible to support businesses in places like Missouri that are thinking about insourcing. The Obama Administration will continue to call on Congress to pass legislation to give our companies a tax break if they move operations and jobs back.

  • Kiersten-Care: Using the Health Care Tax Credit to Take Care of Employees

    Ed. Note: This was originally published on Healthcare.gov

    Kiersten Firquain founded Bistro Kids in Kansas City, KS, seven years ago to provide locally sourced organic “kid-friendly” food to as many students as possible. While her chefs were cooking up healthy food for youngsters, she wanted to do something for her employees’ health. The health care law tax credit for small businesses, she says, made it possible to offer them health insurance.

    “We talked to our chefs and employees and asked, ‘What’s something you would like from Bistro Kids?’ And one of the things that kept coming up was insurance,” Kiersten says.

    Bistro Kids qualified for about $1,500 per year in tax credits under the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, which made a huge difference to a small business like hers. For one of her chefs, Kiersten says, health insurance means a $5 co-pay for a prescription instead of a $250 cost, which her chef would not have been able to afford.

    Watch Kiersten's story here:

  • New Visa Legislation Enables Israeli Investors to Create American Jobs

    Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3992, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Howard Berman (CA28), which would further open America to direct investment by Israeli investors, provided Israel reciprocates with similar opportunities for American investors. The law adds Israel to a list of 80 countries whose citizens are eligible for E-2 investor visas.  

    E-2 visas are temporary visas granted to investors from a particular list of treaty countries. To qualify for this visa, foreign national investors must intend to come to the United States to develop and direct the operations of a business in which the foreign national must have invested — or be in the process of investing — a substantial amount of capital in the enterprise.  In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States issued 28, 245 visas for this purpose.  

    Israel is a significant trade partner with the United States. In 2011, bilateral trade with Israel totaled $26.9 billion, and it is among the U.S.’s top 10 largest per capita export markets. Israel is a world leader in security and defense technologies, medicine, agriculture and clean energy.  As we work to build an America Built to Last, and get our economy back on track, the Obama Administration is focused on supporting and generating investment in these and other critical industries.