On Friday we got some encouraging news on the economy, learning that 162,000 jobs were created in March – “the most positive jobs report we have had in three years,” as CEA Chair Christina Romer pointed out. But as the President said later: “At the same time, it’s important to emphasize: while we have come a long way, we still have a ways to go.”
That’s why the President and his Administration have maintained, and will continue to maintain, job creation as our number one priority. The jobs forum at the White House a few months ago brought together some of America’s leading CEOs, small business owners, labor leaders, and thinkers to generate ideas to put Americans back to work and set the stage for a series of new initiatives to build upon the progress made by the Recovery Act. And in the time since, we have seen some of those ideas come to fruition in measures like the HIRE Act, a major jobs bill signed by the President a couple weeks ago that will be helping to boost the economy in the months to come.
At the jobs forum, the President also made clear that he would be looking for ideas and insights from outside Washington:
“And I want to continue this conversation outside of Washington, which is why I'll be meeting with some of the small business owners that you saw in the video in Allentown, Pennsylvania, tomorrow, to get their ideas. It's also why we've asked state and local officials and community organizations to hold their own jobs forums over the next week or so and to report back with the ideas and recommendations that result.”
In the months that followed, hundreds of citizens, mayors, and other local officials came together with their neighbors and community leaders to hold Community Jobs Forums in every corner of the country. Jared Bernstein, Chief Economist for the Vice President, helped us sort through all the feedback we got from those forums to compile a memo to the President which we’ll be submitting to the President soon.
There were a lot of new and innovative ideas that the White House will be keeping in mind as we continue work on the economy, and you can see some of the most interesting ones in the memo. But the honest truth is that the most striking thing about the feedback was how much demand there was for the jobs programs that were part of the HIRE Act and were already in development here.
Here’s what President Obama said at the signing of the HIRE Act, alongside some representative quotes from folks who reported back on their forums – we hope that we, and they, are right that this will help our economy keep getting back on the right track.
President Obama: “What we can do is help promote a strong, dynamic private sector – the true engine of job-creation in this country.”
President Obama: “First, we’ll forgive payroll taxes for businesses that hire someone who’s been out of work for at least two months – a tax benefit that will apply to unemployed workers hired between last month and the end of this year.”
President Obama: “By the way, I’d also note that part of what health insurance reform would do is provide tax credits to over 4 million small businesses so they don’t have to choose between hiring workers and offering coverage.”
Laura, a Ph.D. from Oklahoma: Offer “financial support for health coverage for employees, tax incentives to hire and maintain new hires, incentives for additional training and re-training.”
President Obama: “Second, this jobs bill encourages smaller businesses to grow and hire by permitting them to write off investments they make in equipment this year. These kinds of expenses typically take years to depreciate, but under this law, businesses will be able to invest up to $250,000 – in say, factory equipment – and write it off right away.”
President Obama: “Third, we’ll reform municipal bonds to encourage job-creation by expanding investment in schools and clean energy projects.”
President Obama: “Finally,this jobs bill will maintain crucial investments in our roads and bridges as we head into the spring and summer months, when construction jobs are picking up.”