Last week, the Labor Department released yet another discouraging jobs report
. In August, hiring slowed to a point where employers added just 96,000 jobs to the economy--nearly 50,000 less than they added in July--while unemployment remained above 8%, dropping slightly from 8.3% to 8.1%.
Let’s put those numbers in perspective. 96,000 new jobs is not even enough to keep up with our nation’s population growth, and the unemployment rate only fell because so many people have given up looking for work--about 368,000 Americans dropped out of the workforce. In fact, the report found that the percentage of Americans out of the workforce has dropped to its lowest level in 31 years.
It would be hard to find a clearer answer to the question that Americans are asking this election season: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” As this article in the Wall Street Journal
explains, the deeper we go into the numbers, the beaker it looks. 40.7% of unemployed Americans have been looking for work for more than 27 weeks. Since April of 2000, our population has grown by 31 million, yet fewer Americans are employed now than then. Even for those who have jobs, annual wage growth has dropped to 1.6%, the lowest average in three decades.
In 2008, President Obama ran his campaign on the themes of “hope” and “change.” This time around, I agree. We do need change. We need change in Washington's liberal spending habits, and change in how government goes about creating conditions for the economy to grow. Sure, the President came into office during a hard time, but the numbers tell us that four years later we still aren't any better off than we were before.
That said, we cannot adopt a doom and gloom attitude toward these jobs reports. I also have a deep-set hope that we can get America working again. Having served on the House Education and Workforce Committee, I have made job creation a central priority during my time in Congress. In this past session of Congress, I have voted to pass more than 30 bills that would spur job-growth. I authored the Workforce Improvement and Investment Act, which made it easier for workers to get into federal job training programs and gain the skills they need to find jobs. Earlier this year, I voted for the JOBS Act, which was signed into law in April and will make it easier for small businesses and entreprenuers to get the capital they need.
Back in March I started an initiative called "One More Job," where I invited small business leaders in my district to give me some input and ideas about what Washington could do to help put them in position to hire just one more employee. Those in the district have the best idea of how our laws affect you and your ability to do business, and I want to be sensitive to that while working on bills in Washington.
No one said it would be easy or simple to get America back on a path of job growth. But I believe we can put policies in place that will make it easier for Americans to start businesses and invest in the future, and we can make the tax code and federal regulations simpler so that employers can hire more workers and compete on a level playing field.
Throughout our history, America has been a place where the next generation always had a brighter future than their forbearers. The past four years under President Obama have put that future in jeopardy. It's time to elect leaders who will make it a reality once again.