On Labor Day, we celebrate the accomplishments of the American workforce, a record 156 million strong.
Working Americans and American job seekers have an economy that is creating family-sustaining jobs and the opportunities for a brighter future.
Our economy is best defined by one word: optimism. The National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Optimism Index is within 0.1 percent of the record set in the first term of President Reagan. The Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey from the National Association of Manufacturers reached an all-time high for “Percentage of Respondents Positive in Their Own Company’s Outlook.”
Working Americans have the highest level of job satisfaction since 2005, according to a survey issued by The Conference Board recently. The Conference Board also reported that consumer confidence is at the highest level since October 2000.
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This optimism is not just perception, it is grounded on results delivered. In the second quarter of 2018, the American economy grew by 4.2 percent — which many once thought was out of our nation’s reach.
President Trump is squarely focused on creating jobs, more jobs, and even more jobs. Americans are seeing the results, with 3.9 million new jobs created since November 2016. This economy is bringing back the goods-producing industries of manufacturing, mining and logging, and construction.
During the past year, we have experienced the largest 12-month increase in manufacturing jobs in 23 years. Since President Trump’s election: Manufacturers have added 412,000 manufacturing jobs; after years of job losses, the mining and logging industry has 89,000 more jobs; and the construction industry has created 431,000 new construction jobs.
The unemployment rate this year reached a 17-year low, and it has held at or below 4 percent for four straight months. The prospects for Americans looking for work and those seeking to return to the labor force, have never been better. For the first time since the Department of Labor began tracking these statistics, job openings exceed the number of job seekers, with 6.7 million open jobs and 6.56 million Americans unemployed. One million prime-age workers have joined or rejoined the labor force since November 2016.
With all of this positive news, the president’s administration remains steadfast in its work to create even more opportunities for the American workforce.
President Trump has prioritized workforce development initiatives to equip Americans with the skills they need to fill and excel in good, family-sustaining jobs. Earlier this year, the President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which convened leaders from business, labor, educational institutions, trade and industry groups and public officials, submitted a report to the president outlining recommendations to expand apprenticeships across all industries.
In addition to the Task Force’s work, the Department of Labor announced $150 million in grants to expand apprenticeships in key industries, such as information technology and advanced manufacturing. This week, the Department of Labor launched Apprenticeship.gov, which provides career seekers a platform to search for apprenticeships by city, state, and occupation.
The administration’s approach to strengthening workforce development also includes the president’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” —a White House initiative that invites job creators to invest in the American workforce. The President’s call to action has received pledges from businesses, trade associations and labor, to provide work-based learning opportunities — apprenticeships, continuing education, on-the-job training, and reskilling programs — to help over 3.5 million American workers and students upskill and reskill to meet rapidly changing job demands.
This administration is working to deliver its ambitious agenda to help millions of Americans. According to a report by the American Action Forum, the Department of Labor has created $417 million in savings to taxpayers by rolling back unnecessary and excessive regulation. Association Health Plans have expanded opportunities for Americans working in small businesses to access quality, affordable healthcare. We are examining ways to expand retirement savings for small businesses and their employees. We are combating the opioid crisis with a workforce agenda to get people out of addiction and into jobs. We are working to help nonviolent offenders who have paid their debt to society successfully transition from prison to work so they do not fall back into crime.
We have already accomplished much for the American people — yet, we have much more to come in the years ahead.
Alexander Acosta, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, is secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.