A few observations on my 100th day as U.S. Secretary of Labor:
On every one of those days, I have been awed by the expertise and dedication of the Labor Department’s employees. And believe me, at no time was their contribution more apparent and appreciated than during the 16 days when the vast majority of them weren’t here, during the government shutdown. I continue to rely on them every day to get up to speed, so we can continue to expand access to opportunity for more people.
I am grateful for my good fortune. With all due respect to Lou Gehrig, I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth — to be a product of the American Dream; to have benefitted from the sacrifice of my immigrant parents who fled a brutal regime in the Dominican Republic; to have had the chance, with hard work and help from family, community and also the government, to pursue a fulfilling career in public service.
But I know not everyone has been as lucky. So many people are finding the American Dream more and more elusive and the rungs on the ladder of opportunity further and further apart. These are the people we work for at the Labor Department. Every day, I wake up thinking about their challenges. Every day, I think about how we can invest in human capital and get people the skills they need to succeed, about ensuring fair wages and reducing income inequality, about doing more to keep workers safe on the job, about helping veterans and people with disabilities find work.
The economy is recovering, but not at a satisfactory pace, not with the speed or strength that Americans need. As a member of the president’s economic team, I will continue to spend every day looking for ways that we can create good jobs and strengthen the middle class.
I am proud of the things we’ve been able to accomplish already. We have issued new regulations that create opportunity for veterans and people with disabilities. We have a new rule that provides minimum wage and overtime protections for home health care workers. We have made bold investments in our community colleges and their capacity to prepare workers for 21st century jobs. We have done great work to expand partnerships with employers – because if you want to create jobs, you have to work with the job creators.
I love this job. And I am approaching it with a sense of both optimism and urgency. Despite the partisan clash earlier this month, I believe there is plenty of common ground that can steer us away from false choices and toward constructive solutions. There are so many important challenges, so many people who need our help. With enthusiasm and purpose, I’m looking forward to continuing our work for the next several hundred days and beyond.