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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
Congressional Black Congress Foundation Town Hall
, D.C.
September 15, 2010

Good morning.

Thank you Dr. Maya Rockeymoore for that introduction.

It's a pleasure to be here.

I want to thank the Congressional Black Congress Foundation for hosting this important town hall discussion.

As the Secretary of Labor it is my duty to ensure that American workers have the opportunity to gain the skills they need for the jobs and careers of the future.

And the jobs of the future will be in the following areas:

  • Health care;
  • Information technology;
  • Advanced manufacturing; and
  • Clean and renewable energy; or what we call Green Jobs.

Health care is expected to account for the largest growth over the next decade, especially in careers in electronic medical records, health IT, nurses and lab technicians.

The construction industry is expected to recover and the decade's long decline in manufacturing is expected to moderate with aerospace and pharmaceuticals taking the lead in creating many jobs.

Clean energy industries will also lead to a high growth in jobs, particularly in clean energy production and environmental protection.

As our economy continues to recover, we already are seeing a return to growth in many of these industries and continued strong growth in health care.

And many of these jobs will require a very skilled workforces and the demand for high-skilled workers is likely to keep growing.

And ensuring that each of you have those skills is important now more than ever, especially during tough economic times.

We all know that millions of American families are struggling.

The unemployment rate is at 9.6% and for African Americans it is 16.3%.

This is unacceptable to the President and it unacceptable to me.

As soon as we took office, this administration took immediate action to stop the economic bleeding.

To help put people back to work, we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which has saved or created more than 2.5 million American jobs.

The actions this administration undertook helped our economy grow for four consecutive quarters.

It's important to remember how far we've come.

When this administration took office, we were losing 750,000 jobs each month.

The question was whether we'd enter another depression.

This year, we've average 90,000 private sector jobs added each month, and the debate is about the pace of the recovery.

But we know we still have lots of more work to do.

I am working hard to make sure that all communities, especially communities of color are not left behind as we recover from and transition to a 21st Century economy.

And as we transition, education is critical to being able to access good jobs with good wages and benefits.

As the first person in my family to attend college, I know first-hand the importance of a college education.

From four-year colleges and universities, to two-year community colleges, and vocational training programs, the bottom line is that everyone needs and must have skills to get a job!

We know that workers with an education are far more likely to have a job during tough times than the uneducated or undereducated.

We also know that workers with higher levels of education make more money over their careers than those who do not.

This is why I believe that the education system — especially two-year community and technical colleges — needs to work closely with employers to guarantee that training and education lead to jobs.

At the Department of Labor we are working to make this happen through many of our grant programs.

It is also why we work closely with the Department of Education to provide workers with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.

In addition, many of our job training programs that serve at-risk, disadvantaged youth, such as Job Corps and YouthBuild, help them earn a GED or high school diploma because we know education is so important.

My vision for the Department is "Good and Safe Jobs for Everyone" and that means that we must ensure that African Americans have access to education and good jobs.

I look forward to working with all of you, my colleagues in the federal government, and my former colleagues in Congress to ensure that all communities have the tools they need to succeed.

You have my commitment that the Department of Labor will continue to ensure that everyone American will have access to gain the skills they need for a sustainable 21st Century job!

That's a promise.

Thank you!