It has become somewhat of a tradition for Labor Secretaries to use Labor Day to give a “State of the American Worker” report, if you will. Some have made remarks from podiums. Others have testified on Capitol Hill. Some have chosen to address think tanks, corporations, or labor unions.
Those are all important forums. But as your Labor Secretary I have had the great opportunity to meet many of the working men and women who truly make America run, and this year I want to talk directly to you – the American worker.
Many of you have told me that you want an America that “produces things again.” You want a nation that is strong, that leads the international marketplace in innovation and a commitment to quality. And you want a government that is responsive, pragmatic and understands your needs.
But more than anything else, no matter where I go and who I talk to, you’ve told me “we need jobs.”
When President Obama came into office, he inherited an economy that was losing as many as 750,000 jobs each month. We had to act immediately to stop our economy from going into another Great Depression and reverse the dangerous trend of job loss. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act made unprecedented investments for a new clean energy economy, revitalized infrastructure and transportation, helped transform health information technology, and helped make America more competitive for generations to come.
Now, instead of losing jobs, during the past eight months, the economy has averaged 95,000 new private sector jobs. At 9.6%, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. But, I have never been more confident that we are headed in the right direction, or more certain that our country must put creating jobs ahead of partisan roadblocks and petty political games.
I am not an economist. I believe that numbers only tell you part of the story and I know that the only true replacement for a job lost, is a new job that pays good wages. I'm committed to making that a reality for anyone who wants a job.
That's why I'm so excited that this Labor Day we will debut www.myskillsmyfuture.org — a new online tool to connect workers with high quality training and local employment. By visiting the site and adding information about your most recent work experience, you can see exactly what skills you need to qualify for a broad range of careers. You can also find local training and education providers and, yes — you can see local job postings.
So this holiday weekend, please join me in not only celebrating the contributions that working men and women have made to the strength and prosperity of the country, but also in looking ahead to the contributions that are yet to come.
I have no doubt that America will lead the way in the industries of tomorrow, because it is the American spirit and our ingenuity that has made us the great nation we are today. And that’s something worth celebrating this Labor Day.