Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis' statement on August employment numbers
September 4, 2009
"This past August, the economy lost 216,000 jobs fewer than what most experts expected. The overall unemployment rate is now 9.7 percent. Last month's jobs loss is an improvement from the average 700,000 jobs our economy was losing every month when this administration took office, but is still by no means acceptable.
"These numbers are a sobering reminder that our economic conditions continue to cause pain for many Americans and that families are having a difficult time simply covering their daily necessities, much less planning for the future.
"At the Department of Labor, one of our principal goals is to help those people that have lost their jobs until there is a full recovery that includes sustained job growth. With that goal in mind, we have acted quickly to protect workers by extending the number of weeks available for unemployment insurance and increasing the monthly benefit amount by an extra $25 a week. We also have strengthened our social safety net by subsidizing 65 percent of COBRA premiums so that the unemployed can more easily access health insurance.
"At the same time, we are moving swiftly to provide new training opportunities for workers. We are investing nearly $4 billion in federal Recovery Act funds in training workers through the local workforce system. This includes $220 million for training and placement in high growth and emerging industry sectors like health care. It also includes $500 million for green jobs training, which will not only help jumpstart our economy, but also lay the foundation for our long-term competitiveness and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
"We are not only providing sound investments for American workers, the Recovery Act has provided much needed aid to states and has spurred work on shovel-ready projects. Yesterday marked the 200-day milestone of the Recovery Act, and Vice President Biden announced that all 10 agencies met or exceeded their commitments in our roadmap to recovery.
"The results show that we are keeping and creating jobs for America's workers. The Department of Education kept more educators in our schools meeting its goal of funding more than 135,000 education positions across the nation. The Department of Justice put more officers in our communities funding 4,699 law enforcement officers' salaries and benefits for three years. And at the Department of Labor, we exceeded our goal and placed more than 225,000 young men and women in summer youth jobs.
"The recession has done more damage than could have ever been fixed in a half a year. And as we enter the Labor Day weekend, a time to mark the contributions that American workers make to the strength, health and prosperity of our nation, we need to remember that the Recovery Act is helping to pull our economy back from the brink. We still have a long way to go until we can say that the economy is back on track and everyone has access to a good job, but I am confident that we will reach that goal. And I will make sure that the Department of Labor is standing by, supporting workers every step of the way."