Labor officials weigh in on July unemployment rates (8/10)
"Today's unemployment numbers continue to show the challenges of the economic problems that this administration inherited. These figures are a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do on behalf of America's workers.
"This past July our economy lost 247,000 jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent. This is an improvement from the average 700,000 jobs our economy was shedding every month when this administration took office. We are not in recovery yet, but we are starting to create the stability necessary to get us there and we will not be satisfied until we see robust monthly job growth.
"I've been traveling around the country and have heard from many workers who are wondering how they are going to make ends meet and survive this recession. President Obama and I are intensely aware of the adversity American workers are facing and their struggle is the single, most significant concern of this administration.
"We acted quickly to protect workers through increases in unemployment insurance and helping unemployed workers pay for their health care. As a part of the Recovery Act we extended the number of weeks available for unemployment insurance, increasing the monthly benefit amount and 12 million Americans have already benefited from the extra $25 a week in unemployment benefits provided.
"At the same time we are moving swiftly to provide new training opportunities. Last month, I announced $220 million in federal stimulus funds for worker training and placement in high growth and emerging industry sectors like health care. The health care sector alone will generate three million new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016.
"Over the last 160 days, more than 30,000 Recovery Act projects have been approved. There are more than 3,000 shovel-ready transportation construction projects underway, we have funded over $369 million for improving rural water systems and $2 billion has been moved out to state governments and community organizations to fund weatherization programs that improve the energy-efficiency of low-income homes. And earlier this week the president announced $2.4 billion in grants to jumpstart the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries and other next generation energy-efficient cars.
"These projects create jobs and, as demand for supplies and services increases, have a positive ripple effect across the entire construction and auto sectors.
"As a direct result of the billions of dollars in Recovery Act assistance we have already moved to state and local governments, tens of thousands of teachers, law enforcement officials and firefighters are staying on the job at our schools, police stations and firehouses.
"It's important to also note that we are starting to see some signs of progress and our economy is beginning to stabilize. By June, the economy was losing one-third fewer jobs than it was at the beginning of the year and the housing and financial markets are now stabilizing.
"Our economic problems were years in the making and will not be solved over night. The road to recovery is long but we are making the right investments and getting closer and closer to that goal. The significant technology and infrastructure investments we are making today are not just creating jobs now, but laying the groundwork for our economic growth in the future."
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney also issued a statement regarding the July jobs report:
“The dip in the unemployment rate in July is a welcome sign that President Obama's economic recovery package is starting to blunt the impact of the most severe recession in a generation. By refusing to listen to the naysayers, the President and Congress have helped to avert a total financial meltdown â€” despite much continuing pain. We still have a long way to go until our economy is growing and creating good jobs at a healthy rate â€” and we will need decisive and timely action from our government in the meantime.
“It is not good news that we lost 247,000 jobs in July, bringing total job loss since the recession began to 6.7 million. The growth of long -term unemployment by another 584,000 is especially disturbing and cries out for immediate, additional attention. There are now more than 5.7 jobseekers for every available job â€” up from 1.7 at the start of the recession.
“The July job figures would have been much worse without the stimulus, which has helped to slow the pace of job loss to less than half of what it was just six months ago. From May to July, job losses averaged 331,000 per month, compared with losses averaging 645,000 per month from November to April.
“President Obama's Economic Recovery Act has clearly slowed the rate of job decline, but the current deep and broad economic crisis is not going to be solved quickly â€” or with one shot in the arm of economic stimulus. Much more needs to be done to begin to produce the sustained growth we need to create good jobs for America's workers. We look forward to working with the President and Congress to that end.
“To help the unemployed, the AFL-CIO and Working America have created the nation's largest online resource for workers at www.unemploymentlifeline.com.”