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

We Can't Wait Blog Posts

  • Using Idle Earmarks to Improve Transportation and Put People to Work

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

    At DOT, we know that America’s transportation infrastructure is in need of attention, while construction workers across the country remain eager to get back on the job repairing, replacing, and modernizing our roads, rails, and runways.

    Over the last decade, Congress has set aside $473 million in transportation funds that were never spent. These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure continues to age and fall into disrepair, and hundreds of thousands of construction workers look for work. That ends today.

    I’m excited to announce that this Administration is freeing up this unspent money and giving it right back to the states so that they can spend it on the infrastructure projects they need most.

    As President Obama said today, "My administration will continue to do everything we can to put Americans back to work.  We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges." Forty-nine states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, will receive funds, giving them the flexibility to put this money toward infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in their communities.

  • Boosting Innovation in the Rust Belt

    Soon, Youngstown, Ohio will be the home to a new public-private institute aimed at boosting innovation.

    The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute will focus on 3-D printing technology, and it will launch with $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million from  manufacturing firms, universities, community colleges, and non-profits.

    "This institute will help make sure that the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow take root not in places like China or India, but right here in the United States of America,” said President Obama. "That’s how we’ll put more people back to work and build an economy that lasts."

    The Youngstown facility will serve Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and is designed to function as a proof-of-concept for an eventual network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country.

    In March, the President called on Congress to invest $1 billion to launch the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation to boost competitiveness throughout America.

    Since lawmakers have yet to take action, the President is pushing forward with today's initial effort as part of the We Can't Wait initiative.

    Learn more

  • 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. 

  • Making America a Top Tourist Destination: Commerce and Interior Keep Up Efforts to Increase Visitation

    Ed note: This was originally published on thecommerceblog, the offical blog of the Department of Commerce

    This month, more than a million visitors from across the country and around the world are coming to our nation’s capital to see the cherry blossom trees that bloom each spring among some of America’s most treasured historical landmarks. From the purchase of airline tickets to dining in area restaurants to staying in hotels, these visitors are infusing millions of dollars into the community and supporting local businesses.
    As we search for ways to grow our nation’s economy, we must not overlook the travel and tourism industry as a source for economic opportunity. According to data released by the Commerce Department earlier today, tourism spending increased 8.1 percent in 2011 and supported an additional 103,000 jobs, for a total of 7.6 million jobs.
    A big factor in the increase was a surge in international visitors to our country: in 2011, 2.5 million more international visitors came to the United States compared with the previous year. These international visitors spent an all-time record of $153 billion on U.S. travel and tourism-related goods and services.
    As this data reveals, the travel and tourism industry is one of the most important engines of our economy—in fact, it is our number-one service export. That is why President Obama recently announced the creation of a Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, which charged us with leading efforts to develop recommendations for a National Travel and Tourism Strategy to promote travel throughout the United States.

    We know that making it even easier to visit America’s most amazing places and working hard to tell folks about what an amazing place America is – whether you travel five or 5,000 miles to get here–will help grow our businesses and create jobs.
    America is the land of extraordinary natural wonders and incredible landmarks–from the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building.  We have it all right here and have a lot to offer our nation’s visitors.
    With over 397 national park units, 556 national wildlife refuges, and 886 units of the national landscape conservation system, a particular focus on strategies for increasing tourism and jobs is by promoting visits to our national treasures. From hunting, fishing, hiking, and learning about our nation’s incredible history and cultural heritage, public lands and water provide plenty of recreational opportunities that can attract travelers from around the country and the globe.

  • We Can’t Wait: Strengthening Our Democracy Through Open Government

    At the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010, President Obama said: “The common thread of progress is the principle that government is accountable to its citizens.” A government, however, is only truly accountable to its citizens when it is transparent and subject to citizens’ direct participation.

    These principles have guided the Administration from the beginning. On his first full day in office, President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government—a document that has helped to guide the federal government into a new era of openness and public engagement. Since then, the President has redoubled his Administration’s efforts to live up to that early promise—creating to increase public access to government information, aggressively tracking the federal government’s use of federal dollars with websites like and, introducing the “We the People” initiative to give all Americans an opportunity to petition the government on a range of issues affecting our nation, calling for a large-scale transformation in how agencies maintain their records, and launching an effort to cut waste and streamline government operations

    These efforts and others demonstrate that President Obama has made open government a high priority. In furtherance of that commitment and in celebration of Sunshine Week, the President is taking yet another step that ensures an unprecedented level of openness in government. 

  • We Can’t Wait: Obama Administration Calls for A Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights for the Digital Age

    Today at the White House, the Obama Administration unveiled a blueprint for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights to protect consumers online. As the President wrote in his cover letter to the report: 

    “Never has privacy been more important than today, in the age of the Internet, the World Wide Web and smart phones.  In just the last decade, the Internet has enabled a renewal of direct political engagement by citizens around the globe and an explosion of commerce and innovation creating jobs of the future. Much of this innovation is enabled by novel uses of personal information. So, it is incumbent on us to do what we have done throughout history: apply our timeless privacy values to the new technologies and circumstances of our times.”

    In a related announcement, leading Internet companies and online advertising networks in the Digital Advertising Alliance came to the White House to commit to using Do Not Track technology now available in most major web browsers to make it easier for users to control online tracking.   

    The White House has proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights as part of a strategy to improve consumers’ privacy protections and to ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.  These rights give consumers clear guidance on what they should expect from those who handle their personal information, and set expectations for companies that use personal data. With the Internet as a leading engine for economic growth, the Administration is committed to building consumer trust in a rapidly changing digital environment.    

  • We Can’t Wait: Bringing New Investments to Rural Communities by Leveraging Existing Programs

    Since the formation of the White House Rural Council in June 2011, we have had a unique opportunity to provide recommendations on how to grow the economy and create jobs in rural America.    

    The feedback we’re providing to the White House, based on our travels throughout the countryside, has helped us find creative ways to move the country forward without relying on Congress to act because rural Americans can’t wait.

    Today's announcements are the result of the Rural Council’s ability to cut across large federal agencies to deliver results for rural families and businesses.  Along with colleagues at the Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Labor, we announced three new ways to leverage existing programs and funding to drive economic growth in rural communities.

    These announcements include:

    • Promoting A Bioeconomy:  President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum today directing the federal government to dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured.  The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.  
    • Rural Jobs Accelerator: We are launching a national competition, providing about $15 million for projects that promote innovation-fueled regional job creation.  The competition will combine funding from USDA, the Economic Development Administration, Delta Regional Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission. USDA will utilize our Rural Community Development Initiative program to support this effort and provide technical assistance and training funds to qualified intermediary organizations to develop their capacity to undertake housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas.  
    • Rural Health IT Workforce:  The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor signed a memorandum of understanding to connect community colleges and technical colleges that support rural communities with the materials and resources they need to support the training of Health Information Technology (HIT) professionals that work in rural hospitals and clinics.  

    Click here to learn more about the efforts of the White House Rural Council.

  • Enforcing Trade Agreements Protects Jobs

    Last Friday, President Obama traveled to the Boeing aerospace factory in Everett, Washington. He met with workers and discussed his blueprint for an economy built to last with the renewed strength of American manufacturing. Part of the President’s message will focus on the Administration’s commitment to strong enforcement of U.S. trade agreements. The enforcement of trade agreements is vital to the success of large U.S. exporters like Boeing, as well as hundreds of firms of every size throughout Boeing’s global supply chain. 

    Here in the United States, from Washington to Kansas to South Carolina, tens of thousands of Americans depend on Boeing and its suppliers for a job and a place to put their skills to work. Trade agreements that guarantee a level playing field for global competition help make it possible for Boeing to sell its airplanes around the world in support of jobs here at home.   

    Boeing, like other American companies, knows from experience the importance of strong trade enforcement. For many years, the EU and its various member states provided Airbus, Boeing’s main global competitor, with more than $18 billion in subsidies. As a result, Boeing has been competing on an un-level playing field – losing market share and possible job-creating opportunities.  

    Fortunately, last year the Obama Administration secured a victory against EU subsidies to Airbus. It was the largest verdict in the history of the World Trade Organization.  USTR is currently working to ensure that the EU implements the necessary changes and stops the illegal subsidies. Once implemented, this decision will lead to a more level playing field for Boeing and its many suppliers across America who support well-paying jobs for tens of thousands of hard-working Americans.