In the wake of the November Jobs Situation Report, the Obama Administration announces the continuation of its “We Can’t Wait” campaign designed to put more Americans to work.
Specifically, the Obama Administration is pushing its Better Buildings Initiative, where the aim is to modernize federal and private commercial buildings so that they are environmentally efficient. The modernization projects will hopefully create jobs and be paid for with that savings in energy costs and funds from other government accounts.
According to Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, the initiative is a public and private sector effort. Former President Bill Clinton will spearhead the private sector initiative, attempting to coordinate $2 billion in corporate commitments designed to modernize commercial private sector property – including up to 300 manufacturing plants.
The federal government will also commit $2 billion toward modernizing federal buildings, including 40,000 military homes, with “green” technology.
The initiative is slated to last 24 months.
As President Obama continues to push his American Jobs Act, how much solace the initiative brings to the unemployed is tough to determine. Initial reaction to the unemployment rate was cautiously optimistic given that the rate fell. Peeling back the onion doesn’t do much for stopping the shedding of tears since the start of the Second Great Recession.
The unemployment rate for the month of November fell to 8.6%, down from October’s 9.0% rate. What is troubling is the number of people leaving the labor force. While one month does not make a trend, decreases in labor force participation should raise red flags.
In total, 315,000 Americans gave up the search for work. Thirty-seven thousand African Americans left the labor force in November. Fifty-four thousand Latinos also exited the labor force. For Blacks, it is the second straight month for labor exit.
The 120,000 jobs increase overall is positive, but the Obama Administration acknowledged the amount of work that has to get done. “Today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but the pace of improvement is still not fast enough given the large job losses from the recession that began in December 2007”, said the Council of Economic Advisors’ Alan Krueger.
Mr. Krueger went on to say that, “While the U.S. economy is healing, the world economy continues to be in a fragile state and all economies are linked through trade and finance. In this environment, the President’s American Jobs Act is the right medicine to sustain and strengthen the recovery. In particular, with 13.3 million Americans still unemployed, and 43 percent of them unemployed for 6 months or longer, it would be a setback for the economy and American families if Congress were to allow extended unemployment benefits to expire at the end of the year. The President’s proposal to extend and expand the payroll tax cut for workers and small businesses also would provide a substantial boost to economic growth and job creation.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, could not resist rallying the opposition and continued a monthly assault on President Obama’s jobs policies. “Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable,” said the Speaker in a statement. “Today marks the 34th consecutive month of unemployment above eight percent. As you may remember, the Obama administration promised unemployment would stay below eight percent if its ‘stimulus’ was enacted. That promise has gone unfulfilled. Because the president’s policies have failed, the House has passed a series of bills designed to remove government barriers to private sector job creation. There are now 25 bipartisan jobs bills passed by the House awaiting a vote in the Senate. The key to getting all of these jobs measures enacted is the United States Senate. President Obama should use this opportunity to call on Senate Democrats to immediately give these bipartisan bills the vote they deserve.”