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News & Press: Administration News

Your Update from the White House Business Team: Opportunity for All

Monday, February 10, 2014  
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The State of the Union

In his 2014 State of the Union address, the President outlined a comprehensive agenda to make America a magnet for middle class jobs and business investment. He laid out specific executive actions he will take to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all those hoping to join it.

One example: the Presidential Memorandum the President signed last week to create a simple, safe and affordable "starter” retirement savings account, "myRA,” available through employers to help millions of Americans save for retirement. This savings account would be offered through a familiar Roth IRA account and, like savings bonds, would be backed by the U.S. government. The President also charged Vice President Biden with leading a comprehensive review of our federal employment and training programs within existing legislative authority, ensuring that our training programs are job-driven and focused on helping people ready to work attain the skills they need to fill good jobs in high-demand industries.

Click here for a comprehensive summary and list of priorities laid out by the President in the State of the Union. If you did not get a chance to see the address or would like to watch it again, you can check out the enhanced version of the President’s State of the Union here. You can also watch a three-minute summary in the President’s Weekly Address below.

Weekly Address

On the Road

Following the State of the Union, the President traveled across the country to talk about the importance of opportunity for all. At General Electric gas engines facility in Waukesha, WI, the President discussed the rebounding of the U.S. manufacturing sector -- which is adding jobs again for the first time since the 1990s -- and job growth at the facility itself.

"The manufacturing that’s taking place here,” he said, "isn’t just good for this plant. It has spillover effects throughout the economy. And what’s also true is … that manufacturing jobs typically pay well. We want to encourage more of them.” He also highlighted Wisconsin’s youth and adult apprenticeship programs, which are giving residents the skills they need to fill new jobs.

At McGavock High School in Nashville, TN, the President focused on educational opportunity. He discussed the significance of investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten – an investment that produces a $7 return for every $1 invested. President Obama traveled to a Costco in Lanham, MD. After touring the facility, the President spoke about Costco's leadership in employee pay: "Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as a smart way to boost productivity and to reduce turnover. So entry-level employees here -- stock associates, cashiers -- start out at $11.50 an hour.” He later visited a U.S. Steel plantin West Mifflin, PA, to talk more about making hard work pay off for every single American.

POTUS Remarks at Costco in Lanham, MD

President Barack Obama waves to a camera while he greets audience members after delivering remarks on the federal minimum wage at Costco in Lanham, MD., January 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Long-Term Unemployment

After the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, our economy has made significant progress as businesses have added 8.2 million jobs over the past 46 months. But a remaining legacy of the recession is the crisis of long-term unemployment. Too many Americans who found themselves out of a job through no fault of their own have struggled to return to work. Last Friday, the President met with CEOs whose companies have agreed to take steps to help give the long-term unemployed a fair shot at a job, and announced new steps to expand partnerships that connect the long-term unemployed to good jobs. Click here to see the list of best practices on recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed. More than 80 of the nation’s largest businesses have signed on, including 20 members of the Fortune 50 and over 45 members of the Fortune 200, as well as hundreds of small- and medium-sized businesses. In the coming months, the President will encourage other business leaders to adopt these practices.

Read the report on the importance of addressing the negative cycle of long-term unemployment.

POTUS, VPOTUS, and Erick Verela

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden provide encouragement to Erick Varela, who was about to introduce the President, prior to an event to outline new efforts to help the long-term unemployed, in the Green Room of the White House, January 31, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

ConnectED

On Tuesday, following up on his call to action, the President announced major progress toward realizing the ConnectED goal to get high-speed Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages.The FCC is assisting with this initiative, helping to connect more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students to high-speed Internet over the next two years. American companies, including Apple, AT&T, Autodesk, Microsoft, O’Reilly Media, Sprint, and Verizon, are answering the President’s challenge to "dig deep” in support of ConnectED to enrich K-12 education, expand opportunities for students, and train a 21st century workforce.The private-sector has committed over $750 million to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms including devices, free software, teacher professional development, and home wireless connectivity. These announcements will help realize next-generation connectivity to 99% of American students within five years, and begin transforming American classrooms immediately.

Read more about the President’s announcement and the commitments of specific companies.

The Employment Situation in January

The private sector has added 8.5 million jobs in 47 consecutive months of job growth. Unemployment has fallen 1.3 percentage points in the last 12 months and, with this month's report, is now 6.6 percent. Today we learned that total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 113,000 in January, due to a 142,000 increase in private employment together with a 29,000 decline in government jobs. Private sector job growth was revised up for November (to 272,000) and December (to 89,000) so that over the past twelve months, private employment has risen by 2.3 million, or an average of 191,000 per month. But the economy is still healing from the Great Recession and steps are still needed to expand economic opportunity.

For a full report on the employment situation in January click here.


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