U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis

Employment Data Demand Action, Solis Says

The Labor secretary says the latest employment data show the need for forceful action.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis responded to the July 8 employment report with a statement calling for strong action.

"Our nation's labor market experienced slower growth in the month of June. The private sector added 57,000 jobs, but federal, state, and local governments cut a combined 39,000 positions, resulting in a total gain of 18,000 non-farm payroll jobs last month. The national unemployment rate edged up to 9.2 percent. We've now had 16 straight months of private sector job growth and added more than 2.2 million private sector jobs in this span. Our economic recovery is being, and needs to be, carried by the private sector. But we need to see businesses do more to employ American workers. Many companies have had a great year and are sitting on large piles of capital. It is critical that they begin to turn their profits into jobs for the American people."

She then turned to a solution that several trade associations, including construction equipment manufacturers' associations, advocate. "We need to go back to what was working. President Obama forcefully has advocated for common-sense investments in areas like infrastructure, transportation and manufacturing that will bolster our recovery and allow us to pursue long-term solutions to put Americans back to work. We must make investments in our roads, bridges, and most especially, in the education and training of our people. Congress needs to show leadership and send a signal to the markets that Republicans and Democrats are capable of putting aside their differences to act on behalf of the American worker. Lawmakers must quickly come together to approve a plan to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a crisis of confidence about whether we will default on our obligations. We need to remove investors' uncertainty about what the future holds.

"One step Congress could take immediately to keep workers on the job is to reform the unemployment insurance system so more states will participate in work-sharing programs," Solis continued in her statement. "These programs allow employers to avoid making layoffs during lean times by instead reducing some workers' hours, while states make up a portion of their lost wages through their unemployment funds. Work-sharing is a proven job-saver, but fewer than half of all states utilize it. These programs saved more than 265,000 jobs in the previous two years alone. Work-sharing helps businesses retain skilled workers in whom they've invested time and money; it keeps workers on the payroll so they can keep their skills fresh and provide for their families; and it saves taxpayers money by reducing the number of people seeking full unemployment compensation."

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