Today’s jobs report shows that 95,000 new private sector jobs were added in March. It’s more evidence that the U.S. economy continues to bounce back, but not quickly enough for too many middle-class families. The unemployment rate ticked downward slightly to 7.6 percent, the seventh consecutive month below 8 percent.
Private employment has now increased for each of the last 37 months, with 6.5 million jobs created over that time. So while we have come a long way in just a few years’ time, the economy is not yet clicking on all cylinders. We need to work together, Congress and the administration, to unleash its full potential. Americans are counting on Washington to be a catalyst for growth, not a roadblock. That means solving our fiscal challenges in a balanced way, with both responsible cuts and targeted investments to help workers get back on their feet.
President Obama is pushing forward an agenda that will continue to revitalize the economy. He has recently called for a Partnership to Rebuild America, a new public-private initiative to provide more funding for infrastructure projects that create good middle-class jobs, particularly in construction.
The administration will also continue to press for new investments in training, re-employment services and skills development for American workers – particularly veterans – that will spur further job creation.
Every American who is willing to work hard deserves a job, but we owe a special debt to our nation’s veterans. Recently released 2012 figures show veterans finding and keeping jobs in larger numbers. Veterans’ unemployment fell from 8.3 percent in 2011 to 7.0 percent in 2012 (with a corresponding drop from 12.1 percent to 9.9 percent for post-9/11 veterans). Additional resources to help service members complete the transition to civilian life are an important way to honor their sacrifice and a sound investment in a growing economy powered by a thriving middle class.
The March report showed continued gains in professional and business services (+51,000), health care (+23,000) and construction (+18,000). But retail trade employment experienced a decline of 24,000 jobs after an average of 32,000 jobs added over the prior six months.
Seth Harris is the acting secretary of labor.