Response to mixed jobs report

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on April Jobs Report
May 06, 2011

Building on renewed job growth in the past several months, our economy added a surprising 244,000 new jobs in April, including 268,000 in the private sector, even as the unemployment rate rose back to 9.0 percent. The monthly job growth is welcome news, but the economic recovery and job market remain fragile.  Proposed deep federal budget cuts and continuing job losses in state and local government could jeopardize prospects for sustained job growth, given ongoing weakness in the housing market and record foreclosures, high levels of consumer debt, and weak income growth for the middle class.

For the 13.7 million Americans still officially unemployed and the 11 million more underemployed, any job growth provides a sense of relief. However, this news is clouded by a slowing of economic growth in the first quarter and rising levels of new claims for unemployment insurance over the past few weeks. Unless our government acts soon to boost job creation through investments in infrastructure, state and local aid, and easing of credit for small businesses, we will likely face several years of unacceptably high levels of unemployment.

Just yesterday, we saw a startling example of how high profits do not automatically translate into a better economy for all.  Fortune 500 companies saw their profits rise by 81 percent, while weekly unemployment claims jumped by 10 percent.  This juxtaposition reminded us of the continued and growing dramatic imbalance in our economy.

But too many in Washington have shifted the debate prematurely to austerity, political posturing and misguided fears of the deficit. As a result, Wall Street continues business as usual, wages stagnate and economic growth remains woefully inadequate to create jobs for the almost 25 million Americans who need jobs.

Above all, we must renew our focus on job creation, including by ensuring that state and local governments have the support they need to maintain vital services. Successful job creation is the key to deficit reduction over the medium term. We must commit to the sizeable and sustained level of public investment needed to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and schools and prepare our country for the next generation.  From technology to education, investments today will make responsible fiscal balance achievable and -- most important -- create good jobs for America's workers and help us win the future.

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