Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
ARRA Anniversary and Green Jobs
Event with Rep. Ed Pastor
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Thank you Rep. Pastor for that kind and warm introduction.
It's always great to be with a former Congressional colleague... and more importantly a friend.
I want to thank you for your leadership and for your commitment to the constituents in the 4th Congressional District of Arizona and to the American people.
I also want to thank Kevin Murphy, the Director of the Labor Community Service Agency, for joining us today and to congratulate him for the tremendous work that his agency does for their community.
It's also great to be in sunny Phoenix and to escape the snow in Washington.
Today, we mark the one-year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A year ago, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month, and we were slipping from a recession into a deep depression.
Just weeks after taking office, President Obama put into motion an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create and save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so that our country can thrive in the 21st century.
How? By getting money into local communities, by getting local economies moving again, and by building the foundation for a more stable economy going forward.
Through the Recovery Act, this Administration has invested $80 billion dollars in cities and states across the country to strengthen our clean energy industries, reduce our energy use, and create 2 million good jobs that can't be outsourced.
The Recovery Act also contained tax cuts for middle class families to put more money into family budgets.
It funded transportation and infrastructure projects to create jobs.
And it provided funds to help those looking to get into the workforce get good jobs with a long and stable future.
The Recovery Act gave the Labor Department about $44 billion in Recovery Act funds to provide job training opportunities and to provide support for those who lost their jobs.
I'm proud to say that we've obligated virtually all of our Recovery Act funds.
In the last year, we have
- Distributed close to $3 billion to 32 states for Unemployment Insurance Modernization payments which increased the share of unemployed workers receiving benefits to its highest level in over 30 years;
- Served more than 2.3 million workers through state employment-related services;
- Awarded $720 million in grants for career training in clean energy, health care and high growth sectors;
- Awarded over $101 million in National Emergency Grants to help states facing employment related emergencies;
- Funded an additional 75 YouthBuild projects to provide job training and educational opportunities for low-income or at-risk-out-of-school youth;
- Invested over $200 million in over 40 shovel-ready construction projects to improve Job Corps facilities, which provide job training and education programs for economically disadvantaged youth; and
- Provided funding for projects that employed 317,584 summer youth, exceeding the goal of 250,000.
In the state of Arizona, the Department of Labor has invested over $72 million to help meet the needs of workers today and in the future through both Recovery Act and regular appropriations.
Today, we're looking at a perfect example of how the Recovery Act is helping create economic opportunity right here in Phoenix.
Maricopa Skills Center received a grant to help increase their capacity to train young people for clean energy jobs.
YouthBuild participants are being trained in construction skills through the Maricopa Skills Center and the Labor Community Service Agency working onsite, learning from trained professionals in green construction and development.
With us today is Walter Muñoz. Walter attended the City of Phoenix YouthBuild, and has been working as a contractor with Labor Community Service Agency for the past 15 months. He is learning skills in carpentry, plumbing, and in green construction.
Walter is engaged in projects that are not only helping his community, but the entire city of Phoenix.
This is more than a job, it's a career.
We know that there are thousands of people in this very community that want to work to make sure America leads the world in clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs.
These "green jobs" will be a key driver behind America's economic recovery and sustained economic stability.
You're seeing a piece of that right here in Phoenix.
Young people like Walter are making it clear that the clean energy jobs of the future are available to anyone willing to upgrade their skills.
More importantly, these are good jobs, available to regular people.
And while there's been a lot of rhetoric about the Recovery Act, there is no question it has saved or created millions of jobs.
By providing funds directly to cash-strapped states and cities, the Recovery Act has kept police officers, firefighters, teachers and first-responders on the job.
Thousands of individual Recovery Act initiatives are underway... transportation projects, military and government facility upgrades, and health care center construction projects, just to name a few.
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.
And getting America back to work is what the Recovery Act is doing.