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Blog Post: Let's Continue to Focus on Jobs

View the post on Cleveland.com here.

Encouraging job growth and economic development are the most pressing issues facing our nation right now. We need to come up with solutions to lower the unemployment rate now. There is no more time to waste. It's why I hosted a Job Fair on August 8, in Cleveland, with over 120 employers and 2,500 available jobs. We had a turnout of over 4,000 people, with every kind of education and background (click here to view photos from the Job Fair and Jobs Town Hall).

I'm happy to say that we have received word from hundreds of people who gained employment from the Job Fair. One Cleveland resident, who faces foreclosure, excitedly called the day after the event announcing she had been hired by one of the companies at the job fair. Several recent college graduates announced accepting job offers from companies represented there. An employer notified us it made at least 60 to 70 hires for part time work as a result of the event. More than anything else, this event was about connecting people in our community, who are eager to work, with employers who are ready to hire.

But there is much more work to do. I will continue to focus on job growth and strengthening our communities. I support putting into place infrastructure programs that would immediately put people to work, while strengthening the roads, bridges, and buildings our communities depend on (click here to read the National Infrastructure Bank Act, which I recently sponsored). I also support incentives for businesses to hire veterans as well as incentives to train and retain unemployed Americans.

I recently sponsored jobs bills:

Bill Name: Hire, Train, Retain Act

Bill Number: H.R. 2742

The economy is in bad shape and more than anything else, Americans want and need jobs. Surprisingly, there are millions of positions that go unfilled every day.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of June 2011 14.1 million people, or 9.2 percent of all Americans eligible to work, were unemployed.  However, there are enough jobs available to employ just over 20 percent of these Americans.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 3.0 million job openings on the last business day of May 2011.

There is a disconnect.  Many people searching for work lack the job-specific skills they need to be competitive for many of the vacancies.  Specifically, technology is outpacing the nation's current approach to job-related education and training.  The difference between white collar and blue collar jobs is fading because traditionally "blue collar jobs" are more specialized than ever before.

As a solution, I introduced H.R. 2742, the Hire, Train, Retain Act of 2011.  This bill will give employers tax incentives for hiring unemployed Americans and providing job training to fill job vacancies specific to the employer.  Under H.R. 2742, employers will be exempt from the 6.2 percent share of social security tax wages paid to qualified employees, effective for every dollar of wages paid from enactment of this bill through December 31, 2015.  Employers will also receive a “hire retention tax credit” of up to $1000 for each qualified employee retained for 52 weeks.

Bill Name: National Youth Summer Jobs Act

Bill Number: H.R. 2539

The teen unemployment rate hit an all time high in 2010.  Specifically, the unemployment rate for black youth reached an all time high of 49.2% in September 2010 and as of June 2011 had fallen to 39.9% which is also considered a record high.  Not only has the rate remained high but a large number of black teens are no longer in the labor force - - - not working and not looking for work.  To begin to address this issue, I introduced the National Youth Summer Jobs Act of 2011 – H.R. 2539.  H.R. 2539 will provide funding to cities hardest hit by the economic crisis to develop and sustain summer job programs for youth ages 13-21. Cities and towns that use local funds to provide summer job programs for youths are strapped and many teens are helping to support their family and keep food on the table during these hard economic times.  It is my hope hope that this legislation will shine a light on this issue and help cities employ our youth.