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

Remarks for the Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Philadelphia Summer Jobs Launch
Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Good afternoon. Buenas tardes.

Thank you all for that warm welcome.

And to my friend and colleague, Mayor Michael Nutter, thank you for your commitmentto this city's workers. It's great to see you.

And thank you for opening doors of opportunity for young people across Philadelphia this summer.

On the way over here I was thinking about my first summer job and what it meant to me and my family.

I grew up in a modest neighborhood just outside of Los Angeles.

It was an industrial community of blue-collar, working people.

My parents immigrated from Mexico and Nicaragua.

They were two of the hardest-working people I know.

They raised me and my six siblings with little money … but lots of love.

And the same could be said for the other kids in the neighborhood.

We didn't have much. But we had each other.

So to get ahead, we had to work twice as hard.

And to find a summer job, we sometimes had to look twice as hard.

In my teens, I worked as a recreational aide in my community supervising and mentoring youth in various educational programs.

I even delivered free lunches to needy students.

I also spent a summer working in a library — stacking and cataloging books and helping my classmates select books to read.

I remember feeling very important.

And let me tell you: There's no substitute for the real world experience of showing up for work.

There's no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck.

I met role models during those jobs that helped me become the first member of my family to go to college.

And they helped put me on a lifelong career path.

I began working with children. Then I helped high school graduates apply to college and get financial aid.

From there, I was elected to the Rio Hondo Community College Board in Whittier.

From there, I went to the California Assembly and then Congress.

And I wouldn't be standing before you today — as the nation's first Latina Secretary of Labor — if it wasn't for the summer work experiences I had growing up.

That's what summer jobs can do for young people — especially in underserved communities.

So keeping summer jobs programs alive is not only important to me — it's personal.

President Obama feels the same way. And I know you do, too.

So I want to thank each and every person here today — business leaders, community leaders, allies and advocates — all of you.

Thank you for your commitment to our youth and to their future.

Even in the toughest of times you've continued to make summer jobs a priority.

And I know it's because you care deeply about this community — and about the future of our country as a whole.

You know that the future of our country depends so much on the skills and experience we give our youth.

President Obama knows, too.

That's why he included funding for summer jobs in the Recovery Act back in 2009.

As a result, we saw the benefits of a society that was willing to invest in its youth.

More than 367,000 young people found summer jobs in 2009 and 2010 because of the Recovery Act.

And when those Recovery Act dollars dried up last year, I made summer youth jobs a top priority at the Department of Labor.

I personally traveled to communities across the country and challenged employers to make a commitment.

A number of major corporations — like Jamba Juice, UPS and Wells Fargo — signed on.

Major nonprofits like "We Are Golf" helped tee up thousands of summer jobs.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors worked with their local business leaders to secure commitments.

And the Mayor can tell you about the incredible difference we made.

Together, we opened up 80,000 summer job opportunities for America's youth.

We've got to build on that progress. There's still so much to do.

900,000 African-American youth looked for work last summer … and struck out.

More than 800,000 Latino youth couldn't find a summer job.

The youth unemployment rate hovers at 16%.

This has implications on their long-term career development …. and on many families struggling right now.

We know that getting a summer job helps young people land a full-time job.

My chief economist recently ran the numbers and found huge disparities in the earnings of youth who find a job within six months of graduation — and those who don't.

The earnings gap is between 20 and 40 percent.

So we know that summer jobs — and the doors they open — can make a big difference in future earnings for young people who enter the labor market after high school.

Also, in these tough economic times, many young people share their summer earnings with their families to help make ends meet.

That's why the commitment you're making today is so important — not just to thousands of Philadelphia youth, but to their loved ones and our nation's economic security.

Consider this: In the last year of the previous administration, we saw a 30 percent drop in summer youth employment.

But in 2011, we saw a 13 percent increase.

So we're making progress, but we've still got a lot of work to do to make sure every person, in every community, is thriving again.

The President and I believe that employing our youth is critical to a sustained and continued economic recovery.

And we're committed to making sure that every young person who wants a job this summer can find one.

That's why the President recently launched the "Summer Jobs Plus" Initiative.

It's a call to action for businesses,
non-profits, and government to work together and provide pathways to employment for youth in 2012.

We set a goal of 250,000 commitments by the start of the summer.

Since we launched the initiative in January, nearly 100 employers nationwide have answered the President's challenge

Together, businesses, nonprofits and communities have committed to create nearly 290,000 employment opportunities, including nearly 90,000 paid jobs.

But we are not done yet.

Companies across the country are getting involved — and they should be applauded for their commitment to our young people.

But we need to do even more.

So I hope that Philadelphia employers will join us in making a commitment to "Summer Jobs Plus."

You can visit our website to get started.

It's D O L dot GOV slash SUMMER JOBS

Today, I'm delighted to make some national news here in Philadelphia:

Today, the Department of Labor is launching the "Summer Jobs Plus" Bank.

Together with our partners — and with the help of online job sites big and small — this online job search tool will connect young people to summer opportunities near them.

And it's a way to give companies added visibility across the country.

They deserve recognition for investing in our youth.

Whether young people are looking for a job at the CVS around the corner from home — or at a national park two states away — they now have one place to start their search.

In addition to traditional job opportunities, the "Summer Jobs Plus" Bank also features innovative online training programs like Code Academy.

And it features job shadowing and mentorship opportunities from non-profit groups like the Boys and Girls Club.

But the great thing about the Summer Jobs+ Bank is that young people don't have to visit D-O-L dot GOV to find it.

This job bank can be easily embedded into any existing website of any company, municipal government or community organization.

The Bank is live right now, so I encourage the young people here today to check it out.

But we aren't stopping there.

A few weeks ago we launched the first-ever "White House Code Sprint" — challenging software developers to build their own applications using the Summer Jobs+ Bank.

Today I'm happy to announce that what we got back was pretty amazing.

Whether it's the "PocketJobs app" that puts the Summer Jobs+ Bank on your phone . . .

Or "Trabaja Friends," which allows you recommend Summer Jobs to your friends through Facebook . . .

These apps — built over the course of one week — are going to help countless young people find opportunities this summer.

So I encourage companies who want to get involved to do so.

With just a few clicks, your job opportunities can be included in the bank, and in these tools too.

Here in Philadelphia, employers understand that our youth must be competent, qualified and work-ready candidates.

Not only to compete for good jobs — but to succeed, and to turn them into rewarding careers.

We know that Philadelphia's young people need hands-on job training.

They need to know how to dress for success and nail job interviews.

But most of all, they need mentorship, guidance, and your inspiration.

They need to know that we care.

I know because I've been there.

So I hope that YOU will join President Obama and I in meeting this critical moment for young people and for our country.

Our success in the future depends so much on how much we invest in our youth today.

And there's no group more crucial to this effort than all of you.

Thank you again for having me here.

God bless you and have a wonderful day.