WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement about the March 2015 Employment Situation report released today:
"The economy added 126,000 new jobs in March (129,000 in the private sector), extending the longest streak of private sector job growth on record to 61 consecutive months, with 12.1 million jobs created over that time. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.5 percent. Long-term unemployment fell to 1.6 percent, down 0.7 percentage points from a year ago. Average hourly earnings increased by 7 cents for all private-sector employees, contributing to a 2.1 percent increase in nominal hourly wages over the last 12 months.
"While March's numbers aren't as robust as we've seen over the last year, overall trends remain solid, and there is every reason to be optimistic about our economic trajectory going forward. We've made incredible strides since the depths of the Great Recession, but there's more work to do to make sure every person can benefit from this recovery. There's more to do to strengthen and grow our middle class.
"The Obama administration continues to make strong investments that will give people the in-demand skills required to succeed in 21st century jobs; by contrast, the Congressional majority's budget would mean 2.2 million fewer people in 2016 alone receiving job training and employment services. A new public-private initiative called TechHire is giving Americans pathways to well-paying IT jobs, which are currently available in the hundreds of thousands. And today, the president is announcing new steps to drive growth in clean energy and train 75,000 workers, including many veterans, for solar jobs.
"Wage growth remains the unfinished business of this recovery. While Wall Street employees are collectively taking home billions of dollars just in bonuses, minimum wage workers haven't had a raise since 2009. Even as many states and localities take action on this issue, we still need Congress to put partisanship aside and raise the federal wage floor.
"And to help working families, we also need to expand access to paid leave, so that no one has to lose a paycheck in order to take care of a sick child or spouse. This week we kicked off a nationwide tour — Lead on Leave: Empowering Working Families Across America — to highlight best practices from employers and state and local governments, raising awareness about the need nationwide for paid leave and other flexible workplace policies.
"These steps are essential to an agenda based on middle-class economics, where everyone has the chance to succeed. As we celebrate the progress of the last few years, we have to do more to ensure the rising tide lifts every boat. Working together, we can do more to expand opportunity and create an economy that works for everyone."