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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
White House Jobs Summit
Washington, DC
December 3, 2009

Good afternoon everyone.

I want to thank President Obama and the Vice President for asking me to be here today and for convening today's forum.

I also want to thank all of you for joining us in this important and vital discussion on jobs and economic growth.

Over the past 10 months, the Obama Administration has taken a number of bold steps to break this recession. We've worked to stabilize the financial system, revive lending to small businesses and families, and prevent responsible homeowners from losing their homes. And through the Recovery Act, taxes for middle class families have been cut; we have extended and increased unemployment insurance, and created and saved more than a million jobs.

As a result of all this work, we have moved back from the brink, and the economy is now growing, but, the bottom line for people is jobs. Jobs that put paychecks in their pockets!

Even though we now have economic growth, it has only led to a slowing of job losses, not yet to the job growth that we urgently need and want to see happen for American families. The unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent. The day when these numbers come out is always a stark reminder of how much we have left to do to create good jobs for everyone.

The focus on all workers is important because the unemployment rate is disproportionately high for workers of color, the young, and the disabled … and frankly, this is unacceptable! Behind these numbers are real families, facing real hardship. Their worries, fears and problems are the single most important focus of this Administration, and they are who I am fighting for everyday.

We need to be honest about the challenges we are facing and the frustration that Americans feel. In my ten months in office, I've traveled throughout the country. I've been to 20 states and 40 cities, and consistently I see and hear that the American people want us focusing on the issues that most affect them and their families in their daily lives … most importantly, a pathway to a good job.

We need strategies that will get all people back to work now in good sustainable jobs. This Administration will not rest until we have accomplished this goal. The President and his team are focused on jobs and job creation every day. That's what brings us all here today.

We have already been working with many of you in this room on identifying strategies to create jobs because it will take all of us to accomplish this goal. We welcome new ideas and new voices in the debate because economic recovery and job creation depends on the cooperation and the ideas of the employers of all types, including small business owners, workers and labor organizations, and nonprofits.

America is a great innovative country, but there is a role for the government in encouraging innovation and promoting good ideas that will help get people back to work. Let me give you an example. In October, I was in Nevada where I announced the award of $138 million in federal funds to Nevada Energy's Advanced Service Delivery project. Because this funding was more than matched by the private sector, this is nearly a $300 million investment! These funds were part of the 100 grants made available by this Administration — totaling $3.4 billion — to help build a nationwide smart energy grid. I saw first-hand the work these funds will support as Nevada's electricity infrastructure is modernized and clean energy jobs are created.

We need more stories like this — stories about public-private partnerships that leverage innovative ideas to create jobs for Americans. That is why I am energized to begin today's conversation and hear from many of you.

I think that we can all agree … that no matter who you are — work is much more than a source of income, it's a source of dignity. Work is about who and what we are. So let's get to work.

Tomorrow President Obama will travel to Allentown, Pennsylvania. The White House New Media team visited Allentown and has captured the stories of local small businesses making their way in these difficult economic times. Egypt Star Bakery is a long-standing Lehigh Valley institution with a close-knit staff dedicated to serving one another and their community. They've weathered the recession by tightening their belt and making some personal sacrifices for the sake of the business.

Applied Separations Inc. is a small engineering firm that hires and trains people in green technologies, in some cases retraining workers who have been laid off from other industries.

I invite you to watch their stories.