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

Jobs News

  • First Lady Announces 125,000 Veterans and Military Spouses Hired Through Joining Forces

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Joining Forces event (August 22, 2012)

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks announcing a major veterans and military spouse employment milestone during a Joining Forces 125,000th hire event at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, Aug. 22, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Earlier today, I joined with First Lady Michelle Obama at Naval Station Mayport near Jacksonville, Florida as she announced that 2,000 companies had hired or trained an amazing 125,000 veterans and military spouses in the past year through Joining Forces.

    This effort, combined with policies and legislation put in place by the President have resulted in a 20 percent decrease in veteran unemployment compared to this time last year.

    It was an extraordinary event, set among several Navy Seahawk helicopters, that kicked off with a new Joining Forces video telling the story of how we got to today's announcement. Hundreds of Sailors from on Navy's premier warships and helicopter squadrons were in attendance along with their families.

    The Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral Scott Van Buskirk, was there and delivered inspiring remarks.

    Leaders of businesses who have been hiring literally thousands of veterans were there -- and they brought with them veterans and spouses who they hired in the past year.

    As several of the veterans told me, Joining Forces has made a significant impact on their lives.

  • 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.

  • The Employment Situation in July

    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 build 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 build on the progress of the last few years, President Obama has 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.  In addition, 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 rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders. 

    Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 172,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 163,000. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period. 

    The household survey showed that the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3% in July (or, more precisely, the rate rose from 8.217% in June to 8.254% in July).  Acting BLS Commissioner John Galvin noted in his statement that the unemployment rate was “essentially unchanged” from June to July.  

  • White House Honors Champions of Change for Unwavering Commitment to Transportation Innovation

    Ed. Note: This article was originally published on the U.S. Department of Transportation Blog

    It was my distinct pleasure to welcome the 2012 Transportation Champions of Change recognized yesterday by the White House. The 14 individuals selected for this honor comprise an amazing roster of transportation excellence and leadership.

    We've accomplished a lot at DOT in the past few years, but we did not do it alone. In communities across the country, we have found bold, innovative leaders who have taken up the important cause of changing the way we think about transportation and have created jobs in the process.

    These Champions are making a difference every day in their local communities and across the country. And, thanks to them, it is a new day for transportation in America.

    Transportation today is not simply about building new roads or widening bridges. It's about looking at how people want to get where they need to go and how they are affected in different ways by the decisions we make.

  • 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. 

  • Summer Jobs and Opportunity in San Francisco

    Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from the Department of Labor blog
    Secretary Solis at Summer Jobs+ meeting

    Secretary Solis meets with Mayor Lee, local employers, and talented young people taking part in the Summer Jobs+initiative. Photo Courtesy of Department of Labor.

    The Bay Area has long been a hub of innovation and technology, so it is critical that local employers are actively engaged in developing a skilled workforce for the 21st century. Ensuring that young people learn the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math while in school is crucial to maintaining our culture of innovation, but so is exposing youth to the types of career opportunities available in these and other high-growth fields.

    That’s why I was so pleased that the Mayor of San Francisco and many local employers signed on to President Obama’s Summer Jobs+ Initiative. Together, we’re working hard to provide our young people with the skills, experience, and opportunities they need to succeed.

    Earlier this week I had a chance to sit down with the Mayor and employers like BRE Properties, Starbucks, and Jawbone who understand that summer jobs offer young people a chance they desperately need, while at the same time helping businesses develop a stronger pipeline to the local workforce.

  • Transitioning Our Service Members

    In August 2011, President Obama visited the Washington Navy Yard to discuss his plans to ensure that all of America’s veterans have the support they need and deserve when they leave the military, look for a job, go to school, and enter the civilian workforce. Our service members receive training of the highest quality to ensure they have the skills necessary to protect our country, yet service members who are preparing to leave the military lack access to expansive, personalized training and counseling necessary for success in the civilian sector. That is why, as part of his August address, the President directed the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to lead a task force to develop a career-ready military and design a “reverse boot camp” for separating service members.

    On July 23, 2012, President Obama addressed the VFW in Reno, Nevada and announced the first major re-design of the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) since the program’s inception over 20 years ago. Previously, TAP was a voluntary, one-size fits all program. Many service members complained of that the workshops were “death by PowerPoint” and did not provide the interactive education and training required to be prepared to join civilian life. Under the President’s new transition program, Transition GPS, our military will no longer feel as if they are in a one-size-fits-all program. 

  • 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.

  • Attracting Investment in America Creates New Jobs

    Nippon Sharyo railcar production facility

    Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matt Erskine joined Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Rochelle Mayor Chet Olsen, and Members of Congress at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for this new Nippon Sharyo railcar production facility in Rochelle, Illinois. (photo courtesy City of Rochelle)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Commerce Blog.

    Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States, and the jobs that come with it, has been a priority of the Obama administration since it came into office. Business programs from every federal agency have been thoroughly ramped up, and a new initiative targeting foreign companies thinking about locating in the United States, SelectUSA, was launched in 2011.

    The United States is already the largest recipient of FDI in the world. In 2010, such investment totaled $228 billion, up from $153 billion in 2009, supporting more than five million jobs throughout the country. Those workers made up 4.7 percent of total private-sector employment in the United State, with an annual payroll of $410 billion.

    Success in attracting FDI doesn’t happen without a lot of hard, collaborative work on the part of states, municipalities, development agencies, and the federal government. I saw an excellent example of this today in the city of Rochelle, Illinois, where I participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a new manufacturing facility for Nippon Sharyo U.S.A., the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturer of railcars.

    Nippon Sharyo has a long history of selling passenger railcars here in the United States. With the opening of this new plant in Rochelle, however, the company will be able to expand its U.S. operations, lower production costs, comply with the “Made in America” requirements of many of its buyers, and—most important to the economy here—create 250 new jobs.

  • The Vice President and Dr. Biden Visit U.S. Vets in Las Vegas

    On Tuesday, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden visited the Las Vegas branch of the non-profit United States Veterans Initiative (U.S. Vets). With a mission to help homeless and at-risk veterans find jobs, U.S. Vets provides comprehensive support that includes housing, counseling, and career development programs. The Las Vegas group alone works with more than 160 veterans every day.   

    At the organization’s career center, the Vice President and Dr. Biden joined a life skills workshop, where they met with veterans who are either currently working or searching for work.

  • Railroad Industry Commits to Hiring 5,000 Veterans in 2012

    Ed note: This post was originally published on FastLane, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Transportation

    I’ve written before about how veterans have the right skills and training for successful careers in transportation as a result of their service. And at DOT, helping our veterans find work strengthening America’s transportation system is a commitment we are proud to fulfill.

    That’s why yesterday, I was proud to join Association of American Railroads (AAR) President and CEO Ed Hamberger and Joining Forces Executive Director Brad Cooper to announce that 500 companies and organizations from America's railroad industry will hire more than 5,000 veterans in 2012.

    Participants in this outstanding initiative include freight, inter-city passenger, and commuter railroads, as well as rail supply companies represented by AAR, and I thank them for of their commitment to America's heroes.

    Hiring experienced military men and women into the railroad industry is not a new practice. For nearly two centuries, rail manufacturers and operators have recognized that our veterans bring a wealth of skills that translate from military service to successful railroad careers.  In fact, 25 percent of the industry’s current workforce has military service.

  • Top Chicago Employers Seek to Hire Veterans and Military Spouses

    The 100,000 Jobs Mission – a coalition of 55 companies committed to hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020 – is partnering with federal, state and local leaders to host a hiring event in Chicago this Thursday, July 12, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

    The event will feature 80 employers and more than 1,500 employment opportunities. These companies are looking to hire transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses for jobs ranging from entry-level to managerial positions in the Chicago area and across the country.  

    Candidates are encouraged to register and upload their resumes ahead of time and should come prepared for same-day interviews – and even same-day offers. With more than 12,000 veterans hired in the 100,000 Jobs Mission’s first 12 months, these employers are committed to the long-term success of veteran employment and are among the 2,100 companies throughout America who have hired veterans and military spouses through Joining Forces in the last year.  

  • President Obama Signs Bill to Create Jobs, Restore America's Transportation System

    Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from Fast Lane, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood's official blog

    Last Friday afternoon, President Obama signed legislation that will put thousands of construction workers on job sites across the country and supports our commitment to restoring America's infrastructure.

    This transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will sustain our Highway Trust Fund and provide states and communities with two years of steady funding to build needed roads, bridges, and transit systems. It also builds on DOT's efforts to improve safety across all forms of transportation and to make progress on transportation alternatives as we have done during the last three years.

    President Obama signs MAP-21

    President Barack Obama signs HR 4348, the Transportation and Student Loan Interest Rate bill during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. June 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

  • The Employment Situation in June

    While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed. It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession. There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making. President Obama has proposals to create jobs by ending tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas and supporting State and local governments to prevent layoffs and rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.

    Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private establishments added 84,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 80,000. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs during that period. Employment is growing but it is not growing fast enough given the jobs deficit caused by the deep recession.

  • Detroit Hosts U.S.'s Largest Veteran Hiring Fair

    Last week, I had the privilege of joining the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs and thousands of  veterans in Detroit for the largest veteran hiring fair in America this year.   

    The result: More than 1,300 veterans have already been offered jobs… and the process is still ongoing.

    This extraordinary effort builds on the 90,000 veterans and military spouses that have been hired in the last year through First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative. 

    Job opportunities were available well beyond Detroit, with more than 200 employers across private and government sectors participating in the three day event. Veterans like Charles Emerson, who served in Afghanistan, came to Detroit  seeking employment opportunities. Emerson drove all the way from Virginia and, after interviewing with a VA Medical Center in Wisconsin, was offered a job starting in September.   

  • Landmark Court Decision Upholds EPA's Actions to Protect Families

    Earlier this week, the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed – via a unanimous ruling – several important steps taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect the health of American families, save consumers money at the pump, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 

    This was a landmark decision with several key components: 

    • The Court upheld EPA’s science-based finding that carbon pollution endangers the public’s health and welfare, noting the “substantial record evidence.” 
    • The Court protected the Administration’s historic fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, adding that EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct.” 
    • Finally, the Court dismissed several petitions challenging a requirement for some of the nation’s largest polluters – starting with new power plants – to install widely-available and cost-effective pollution control technology, while shielding smaller emitters, arguing that “no petitioner had standing.” 

  • DOT Launches Web Portal for Veterans Seeking Transportation Jobs

    Ed note: This post was first published on Fastlane, the official blog of the Department of Transportation

    President Obama has asked that we serve our veterans as well as they’ve served us, and we at DOT are proud to answer the President’s challenge. That’s why today, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, we’re launching a web portal to help veterans find transportation jobs in the private sector. 

    Our veterans have the skills and experience to help rebuild America, and we want to put them to work in the skies, on the roads, and throughout our transit systems.

    DOT Web Portal

  • Another Step Forward Toward Energy Security

    Today, the Obama administration is offering 39 million acres of the most oil- and gas-rich area of the Gulf of Mexico in order to increase the exploration and production of America’s domestic energy resources. This is a landmark sale – we estimate that up to 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 6.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be produced as a result of the acres leased. Holding this lease sale reinforces our commitment to increasing U.S. production, reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, and incentivizing prompt development of the leases that industry holds. 

    The bottom line: it’s good news for American jobs, good news for the Gulf economy, and it’s good news for the President’s efforts to expand safe and responsible production of America’s abundant domestic resources. 

    Despite misleading rhetoric from some, the President has made clear he is committed to expanding oil and natural gas production safely and responsibly, and today’s sale is just the latest example of his administration delivering on that commitment. As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, this sale builds on a series of actions taken by the Obama administration, including additional lease sales in both onshore and offshore areas for oil and gas development. 

  • Translating Veterans' Skills into Veterans' Jobs

    America’s veterans are national and civic assets. Veterans bring extraordinary skills and experience to the civilian work force when they leave the work force – and it's clear that companies want to hire veterans because it’s good for their bottom line.

    But translating one’s military experience into language that is easily understood by civilian employers can sometimes be one of the most difficult tasks a veteran in transition faces. Let’s use me as an example: I’ve been in the Navy for 27 years -- my major skill sets are: driving warships, firing Tomahawk missiles and finding stealthy submarines in the ocean’s depths. Let’s face it, while those talents work well in the Navy, there just aren’t a lot of companies who need those specific skills.

    The good news is: organizations and companies throughout America are stepping up to help with veterans’ “skill translation” -- and the timing is important: more than 1,000,000 veterans will be transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce in the coming years.

    Last November, through the President’s leadership, the White House coordinated a public-private effort with the Departments of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor -- along with major tech companies -- to establish the Veterans Job Bank, a single site with a built-in skills translator and more than 800,000 jobs for veterans today.

  • Reforming Unemployment Insurance to Protect Jobs and Incomes for American Workers

    In his inaugural address, President Obama praised workers who “would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job.”  But in most states, our unemployment insurance (UI) system discourages reducing hours in this way. A worker who is laid off has access to UI benefits that temporarily cover part of lost wages, but a worker whose hours are reduced has no such access, creating an incentive for layoffs while leaving workers who face an involuntary reduction in their hours with no protection or support. Today the Department of Labor is issuing guidance on new legislation that will help to address these problems. This guidance is part of a series of important UI reforms designed to contribute to job creation and job placement that the President proposed in the American Jobs Act, were signed into law in February and are now being implemented. 

    Programs in some states that allow workers whose hours have been cut to claim pro-rated UI benefits—so-called short-time compensation or work sharing programs—help to keep workers on the job.   President Obama has long advocated the expansion of work sharing to help employers and their workers. It’s an idea that has been supported by economists across the political spectrum. The President’s proposal to expand the number of states with work-sharing programs, and increase employer awareness of the benefits of work sharing, was included in both his FY 2012 and 2013 Budgets, and in last September’s American Jobs Act. That proposal was signed into law on a bipartisan basis as part of the February extension of the payroll tax cut, and is being implemented today through guidance released by the Labor Department.