Today’s jobs report showed that the nation’s economic recovery continued in February with the creation of 175,000 new jobs, 162,000 of them in the private sector. For four years uninterrupted now — 48 consecutive months — private-sector employment has grown, to the tune of 8.7 million new jobs. The unemployment rate remained essentially unchanged from January, a full point lower than it was a year ago and below 7 percent for the third straight month following 60 straight months above it.
February’s numbers were resilient, despite the weather. We’re moving in the right direction, but this recovery can and must move more quickly, changing more lives and helping more people realize their highest dreams. President Obama believes in opportunity for all — in giving everyone who’s willing to work hard the chance to succeed. That’s why, for example, he recently took action to launch two new manufacturing innovation hubs that will lead to good jobs. That’s why he continues to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that will grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. That’s why he directed us at the Labor Department to issue $150 million in Ready to Work Partnership grants that will help the long-term unemployed find work.
The president’s budget for fiscal year 2015 provides a road map for accelerating economic growth and expanding opportunity. He proposes major new investments in infrastructure — because upgrading our roads, ports and power grids not only puts people to work right away, it facilitates long-term growth across the economy. The Labor Department budget empowers people, helping them acquire the skills they need, to ensure we’re connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs. The president is also proposing a new Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that includes a multi-billion dollar effort to strengthen our community colleges and promote apprenticeship programs, which are a tried-and-true workforce development strategy.
The president and I are eager to work with Congress on these initiatives and others. But absent leadership from Capitol Hill, the president will take action wherever and whenever possible to help more families secure their foothold in the middle class. This will be a year of action — to accelerate this recovery and create more opportunity for more people.
Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.