The July jobs report shows that our economy continues to improve, modestly but steadily. The unemployment rate inched downward to 7.4 percent, the 11th straight month under 8 percent and the lowest level in more than four and a half years, since December 2008. The private sector added 161,000 new jobs in July, marking the 41st straight month of private-sector job growth and a total of 7.3 million new private-sector jobs added over that time period.
This report is good news, and the economic turnaround over the past four years has been unmistakable. More Americans are finding work, but we can and must do more to pick up the pace of this recovery. So President Obama has offered specific proposals that will jumpstart job growth and foster a growing economy powered by a rising, thriving middle class. The president wants to rebuild our infrastructure, invest in manufacturing innovation, create incentives for clean energy and increase U.S. exports. He has also proposed strengthening our community colleges, linking them more directly to the business community, so that workers have the skills and training to succeed in new jobs.
Congress should join the president in a ‘common-sense caucus’ so that government contributes to a growing economy. For too long, Congress has been single-mindedly focused on an austerity agenda that has kept us in an economic straitjacket. It’s time for a grand bargain for middle-class jobs.
My job as secretary of labor is to safeguard and expand opportunity for everyone willing to work for it. I look forward to working with the president and Congress in the coming months and years toward that goal.