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

  • 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. 

  • My First Job: Richard Kind

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    In the video below, actor Richard Kind talks about his first summer job, working to set up the jewelery and china departments at a new store. Richard had to make sure that every piece in a set of china came into the store intact, and destroy any sets that weren't perfect. In hindsight, the skills he employed on that job don't translate in his current career, but he did learn that you can have fun in the most unexpected ways at work.

    Watch Richard Kind talk about his first job here:

    So far, employers have listed more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+

    You heard about Richard's first job. Now go find yours.

    Learn more

  • White House Rural Council Celebrates Its One Year Anniversary

    President Obama Town Hall Meeting at the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa

    President Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting at the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa, on the first day of a three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Aug. 15, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, President Obama talked to local TV reporters from communities around the country with significant rural populations. These interviews come as the White House released a report noting progress that has been made in the agricultural economy and detailing the steps the Obama Administration has taken to help strengthen the farm economy and support jobs in rural America. The report was developed by the White House Rural Council, the Council of Economic Advisors, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, the President announced new investments to help rural small businesses expand and hire.

    One year ago today, President Obama established the White House Rural Council in order to better coordinate federal programs and maximize the impact of Federal investment to promote economic prosperity and improve the quality of life in rural communities. It truly is exciting that in just one year, more than a dozen new policy initiatives have been launched to assist rural America. One of those initiatives was a new commitment to invest in rural businesses through the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, at no cost to tax payers. Today the President announced that more than $400 million has already been invested this fiscal year in these businesses through the SBIC program, and that nearly $2 billion in additional funding will be invested by the end of fiscal year 2016.


  • My First Job: Chris Lu

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    As the Cabinet Secretary in the White House, Chris Lu is President Obama’s primary liaison to the Cabinet departments and agencies, helping to coordinate policy and communications strategy. In the video below he talks about his first summer job, as an office assistant at a federal research lab in Maryland, where his responsibilites included mopping up the mess after safety showers were tested. Chris says he still has those mop skills, and he also retains the appreciation he learned for the important work federal employees do every day.

    Watch Secretary Chris Lu talk about his first job here:

    So far, employers have listed more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+

    You heard about Chris's first job. Now go find yours.

    Learn more

  • VA’s Business Conference and Hiring Fair: Putting Vets Back to Work

    Veteran's Business Conference

    Ed. Note: This is a cross post from

    The National Veteran Small Business Conference is fast approaching, along with the associated Veteran Hiring Fair and VA Open House. From June 26-29, thousands of Veterans will gather in Detroit’s Cobo Center for the three VA-hosted events below.

  • Congress Says No to Equal Pay

    Equal pay for women is about more than just fairness. Women are breadwinners in more than 50 percent of American households, and if they're making less than men do for the same work, families have to get with less money for childcare and tuition and rent, and small businesses have fewer customers. Everybody suffers. 

    President Obama supports passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive and commonsense bill that updates and strengthens the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work. Following Congress's failure to act on this bill today, the President released the following statement:

    This afternoon, Senate Republicans refused to allow an up-or-down vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a commonsense piece of legislation that would strengthen the Equal Pay Act and give women more tools to fight pay discrimination. It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families. Despite the progress that has been made over the years, women continue to earn substantially less than men for performing the same work. My Administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right for equal pay for equal work, as we rebuild our economy so that hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and every American gets a fair shot to succeed.


    Learn more about wage inequality and its effects on American families here

  • Women Entrepreneurs Are Creating Jobs: An Interactive Timeline

    The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression didn’t develop overnight, and it won’t be solved overnight. But while we have a long way to go, over the past 27 months, American companies have added more than 4.3 million jobs. Behind that number are countless small businesses – entrepreneurs with bold ideas and a willingness to dream big. 

    President Obama knows that small business owners are the engines of our economy. That’s why he has signed 18 new small business tax cuts into law. As our country continues to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, we must continue to support and celebrate America’s job creators. 

    That’s why StartUp America, the Council on Women and Girls and the White House Business Council have put together an interactive tool to introduce you to some of the women entrepreneurs who are helping our country succeed. Some of these small business owners are on the cutting edge of social media, advanced manufacturing and biotechnology. Others have opened traditional “main street” establishments, such as stores and restaurants. All of them have created jobs, and made their communities better places to work and live. 

  • The Employment Situation in May

    Problems in the job market were long in the making and will not be solved overnight. The economy lost jobs for 25 straight months beginning in February 2008, and over 8 million jobs were lost as a result of the Great Recession.  We are still fighting back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

    Today we learned that the economy has added private sector jobs for 27 straight months, for a total of 4.3 million payroll jobs over that period. The economy is growing but it is not growing fast enough. BLS’s establishment survey shows that private businesses added 82,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 69,000. The unemployment rate ticked up from 8.1 percent in April to 8.2 percent in May, according to BLS’s household survey. However, the labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 63.8 percent, and employment rose by 422,000 according to the household survey. 

    There is much more work that remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and deep recession that began at the end of 2007. Just like last year at this time, our economy is facing serious headwinds, including the crisis in Europe and a spike in gas prices that hit American families’ finances over the past months.  It is critical that we continue the President’s economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession. 

    In the American Jobs Act and in the State of the Union Address, the President put forward a number of proposals to create jobs and strengthen the economy, including proposals that would put teachers back in the classroom and cops on the beat, and put our nation’s construction workers back on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.  The President has also proposed a To-Do List of actions that Congress should take to create jobs and help restore middle-class security.  This includes eliminating tax incentives to ship jobs overseas, cutting red tape so responsible homeowners can refinance, giving small businesses that increase employment or wages a 10 percent income tax credit, investing in affordable clean energy, and helping returning veterans find work.  The President is in Minneapolis today to announce a new executive action that will establish private sector partnerships to help military service members acquire recognized occupational credentials—as welders, as machinists, and ultimately in a broader range of occupations. These partnerships will help service members find private sector jobs once they leave the military, and they will help firms in manufacturing and other industries that need workers to fill their vacant positions. 

    Manufacturing employment continues to expand and manufacturers added 12,000 jobs in May. After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 495,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010--the strongest growth for any 28-month period since April 1995.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing. 

    Other sectors with net job increases included education and health services (+46,000), transportation and warehousing (+35,600), wholesale trade (+15,900), and temporary help services (+9,200). Construction lost 28,000 jobs, accounting services lost 14,000 jobs, government lost 13,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality lost 9,000 jobs.  State and local governments shed 8,000 jobs, mostly in education. 

    As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.



  • Ask an Entrepreneur: How Do Small Businesses Benefit from Federal Research Grants?

    Ed note: In honor of Small Business Week, StartUp America is highlighting success stories and advice from American entrepreneurs

    It is not always obvious what will come of a federal research grant. Would you expect that a federal research grant from the National Institutes of Health for “Image Slicing Spectrometer for High Resolution Sub-Cellular Microscopy” would eventually revolutionize oil rig and refinery safety?  The researchers themselves could not have guessed how far their invention would go.

    Two years ago, Robert Kester and I founded Rebellion Photonics around technology he and his colleagues at Rice University created with support from a federal grant for basic bioengineering research. Since then, we have created seven jobs, raised $1.1 million in venture funding, become cash flow positive, and created products that truly make the world a safer place.

    At Rebellion Photonics, we produce video cameras that can identify and quantify chemicals -- essentially our video cameras “see” chemicals, not just colors. While this type of technology, called hyperspectral imaging, has been around since the 1980s, researchers were forced to wait minutes, even hours to see results.  Our cameras take milliseconds, allowing the first true real-time chemical imaging video.

    The technology was initially invented to see live chemical reactions within cells for medical research.  We do sell cameras for researchers, but with the help of additional grant funding for basic R&D we have been able to expand our product range.

    Rebellion Photonics CTO Robert Kester

    Rebellion Photonics CTO Robert Kester at work on the company's the medical imaging device, which uses hyperspectral imaging to identify and quantify chemicals.

  • My First Job: Andy Katz

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Andy Katz, a sports reporter and analyst, got his first job at a sporting goods store, where he once sold a pair of hand weights to then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. Katz said Gov. Dukakis used the weights as he walked to the state capitol in Boston.

    Watch Andy Katz talk about his first job here:

    So far, employers have listed more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.

    You heard about Andy Katz’s first job. Now go find yours.

  • Jon Bon Jovi Helps Young Americans Find Summer Jobs

    Jon Bon Jovi is a singer, a songwriter, an actor -- and a member of the President's Council for Community Solutions. President Obama tasked the Council with finding ways to bring the best resources of the public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors in communities across the country together to work on solving local problems.

    Following extensive outreach and research, the Council determined that providing opportunities for employment for disconnected youth was key, and that if these communities could pull together to move these young people onto critical pathways toward education, employment, and ongoing civic participation, the benefits would be far-reaching. The result is Summer Jobs Plus.

    Watch Jon Bon Jovi talk about Summer Jobs+:

  • My First Job: Gene Sperling

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Today Gene Sperling is the Director of the National Economic Council. In the video below, he talks about his first job as a ball boy. He swept the court and cleaned up after the players, which he thought was "way cool." More importantly, he learned what makes you stand out as a great employee.  

    Watch Gene Sperling talk about his first job:

  • My First Job: Omar Epps

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Omar Epps is well known these days for his role as Dr. Eric Foreman on the tv show "House," but in the video below, the actor says he still has very fond memories of his first job, back when he was a teenager in Brooklyn.

    Watch Omar Epps talk about his first job:

    So far, employers have committed to providing more than 300,000 jobs, mentorships, and other employment opportunities this summer through Summer Jobs+.

    You heard about Omar's first job. Now go find yours.

  • Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on "To-Do List"

    President Obama is calling on Democrats and Republicans to come together and act on his Congressional “to-do list,” which will create jobs and help restore middle class security. In this make-or-break moment for the middle class, these five initiatives have bipartisan support and will help create an economy that is built to last.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

    Learn More:

    See President Obama's "To Do" List for Congress


  • National Travel and Tourism Strategy Sets Goal to Draw 100 Million International Visitors to U.S.

    As we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, the U.S. government is doubling down on its commitment to create more jobs for Americans by growing international and domestic travel and tourism that powers our economy.                                                                      

    Last year, 62 million international tourists visited the United States and pumped a record $153 billion into local economies, helping to support the 7.6 million jobs in our travel and tourism industry. These numbers make tourism America’s number one service export.

    That’s why the White House released a new National Travel and Tourism Strategy today, charting a new course toward making America a more attractive and accessible destination than ever before. The Strategy sets a goal of drawing 100 million international visitors by 2021, which is expected to generate $250 billion annually in visitor spending by 2012. The strategy also encourages more Americans to travel within the United States.

    America is the land of extraordinary natural wonders – from the Grand Canyon to the Florida Keys; from Yellowstone to Yosemite. America is where we do big things, and as a result, we have incredible landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building; the Hoover Dam and the Gateway Arch. This is the land of iconic cities and all their sights – from Independence Hall in Philadelphia to the Space Needle in Seattle to the skyline of Chicago. From the Mall of America to Walt Disney World, we have it all right here.

  • By the Numbers: 26

    Manufacturing accounts for 26 percent of our national economic growth since 2009. Over the same period, our workers and factories have become more productive, leading companies to open their businesses here in the United States instead of overseas. This, in turn, creates good, middle-class jobs jobs and generates broader economic benefits for the communities where these companies choose to set up shop, and our economy as a whole. In fact, since February of 2010, the industry has added 485,000 jobs.

    But more can be done to continue this trend. On Tuesday, President Obama traveled to Albany to introduce his To-Do List for Congress, a list of 5 initiatives that will create jobs and help the middle class—if Congress takes action before leaving for summer recess. The first item on that list: pass legislation that gives companies a new 20 percent tax credit for the cost of moving their operations back to the U.S. and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives that allow companies to deduct the costs of moving their business abroad.

    Want to know what else is on the To-Do List? Check it out here

    Ed. note: This post was updated on May 17.

  • President Obama's To-Do List for Congress: Reward American Jobs, Not Outsourcing

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at the State University of New York, in Albany

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s Albany NanoTech Complex at the State University of New York, in Albany, N.Y., May 8, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Today, Republicans in Congress voted to block President Obama’s proposal to keep student loan interest rates from doubling. If Congress doesn’t act by July 1, more than 7 million students around the country will rack up an average of $1,000 of extra debt. The President has visited colleges in Iowa, Colorado, and North Carolina to speak with students about this important issue, and he will continue to put pressure on Congress to work together and keep student loan interest rates low.

    It’s time for Congress to take action on other common sense initiatives as well. This afternoon, President Obama called on Congress to move forward with a “To-Do List” that will create jobs and help restore middle class security. The President traveled to the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s NanoTech Complex in Albany, New York, where he described a list of initiatives that have bipartisan support and will help create an economy built to last.

    The first item on the To-Do List will help spur American manufacturing, an industry that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, including many in upstate New York. But Congress can take action now to help create more jobs for American workers, President Obama said:

    At the moment, companies get tax breaks for moving factories, jobs and profits overseas.  They can actually end up saving on their tax bill when they make the move.  Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay here are getting hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.  That doesn’t make sense. 

    …before we completely rework the tax code, before we've done a full-blown tax reform, at the very least what we can do right away is stop rewarding companies who ship jobs overseas and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that are moving jobs back here to America.  So we're putting that on Congress’s "To-Do" list. 

     The proposals that the President highlighted today are important steps that Congress can take right now to create jobs. It’s time for Congress to act. Check out the full to-do list, then join the conversation and make your voice heard with the hashtag #CongressToDoList.

  • President Obama's "To-Do List" for Congress

    President Obama has put together a "to do" list for Congress that, if acted upon quickly, will create jobs and help restore middle class security. These initiatives all have bipartisan support, and the President believes that they will help create an economy built to last that supports secure American jobs and makes things the rest of the world buys - not one built on outsourcing, loopholes, or risky financial deals. 

    Here are the items on Congress’s To-Do List:

    1. Reward American Jobs, Eliminate Tax Incentives To Ship Jobs Overseas: Attract and keep good jobs in the United State sby passing legislation that gives companies a new 20 percent tax credit for the cost of moving their operations back to the U.S. Congress should pay for this credit by eliminating tax incentives that allow companies to deduct the costs of moving their business abroad.

  • My First Summer Job: Arne Duncan

    Summer Jobs+ is a call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for young people in the summer of 2012. It's about helping people find their first jobs.

    Arne Duncan's first summer job set him on a lifelong path to a career as an educator. The US Secretary of Education says he learned the importance of having a great work ethic, as well as the impact a good environment has on young people's ability to learn. 

  • Startup Stories: Fast Forward, With a Few Speed Bumps

    "Always be humble and don’t let anybody say you don't work hard. Do your best” were the words of wisdom instilled in me by my Haitian-born parents. They’d experienced the dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier, yet remained total optimists. 

    I thought of them when I arrived at the White House earlier this month. I thought I was just going to attend the signing of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act but in fact, I did more than that. First, I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable discussion to discuss how the new law will fuel innovation across the country and then we had the privilege of meeting President Obama and joined him on the podium in the Rose Garden to sign the bill into law.  

    As I stood up there, I felt honored to part of such a historic occasion. I was thinking of my own startup, my co-founders, our customers, our employees and our investors, and my journey to this moment.

    I was born in Nassau, Bahamas, and then five years later, my family moved to New York. Like many immigrants from the Caribbean, we made Brooklyn, NY, our home.

    In junior high school, I worked hard doing odd jobs to save money to buy my first computer. I started my first (little) company selling colorful computer disks and typing papers for my high school teachers, who were completing their Masters degrees. While my friends had paper routes, I was already going the techie route. 

    After completing undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science at Cornell, I worked at Intel, before helping launch The Theory Center, a leader in component software for enterprise applications. Our founding team was like the United Nations, with representatives from Argentina, China, Haiti, Mexico, and the U.S. We sold the company to BEA systems, for more than $150 million, a life-changing experience. 

    After three years spent investing in young companies, I joined with two of my original partners (Joseph Pilkerton and Julian Pelenur) to start FirstBest Systems. We wanted to renew our passion for building innovative companies and we chose insurance because the industry was underserved by technology in so many areas. We spent 18 months talking to real insurance people about their pains and asked them "If you could wave a magic wand and change your work world, what would it look like?" When everyone began saying the same thing, we knew we were on to something.