Your Update from the White House Business Team: Opportunity for All
Monday, February 10, 2014
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.