This morning, President Obama announced he will invite labor leaders, business executives, small business owners, economists and other financial experts to a special White House summit on jobs next month.
Obama says the summit will explore ways to slow the loss of jobs and quicken the pace of job creation at a time when the nation’s jobless rate is at 10.2 percent, its highest point since 1983. As Obama said,
We have an obligation to consider every additional responsible step that we can to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.
Just this week, the AFL-CIO Executive Council met in Washington, D.C., to outline a national jobs creation strategy that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will announce Tuesday at a special Economic Policy Institute (EPI) jobs and economy panel and seminar. (Plan now to view the live webcast from 9-11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17, at www.aflcio.org/createjobs.)
The summit announcement came as a new report showed there were 502,000 initial claims for unemployment benefits last week. Dire as that is, it’s lower than expected and is the smallest number of first-time claims since January. But, according to Obama:
Even though we’ve slowed the loss of jobs—and today’s report on the continued decline in unemployment claims is a hopeful sign—the economic growth that we’ve seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need.
EPI President Lawrence Mishel calls the announcement of the White House jobs summit “necessary and welcome.”
President Obama is right to say that we should take “every responsible step” to help put Americans back to work. With a double-digit unemployment rate and nearly 16 million Americans looking for work, we should take decisive action as quickly as possible to create jobs. High rates of unemployment damage our economy in ways that can take years, if not generations, to fix, by casting millions of families and children into poverty and making it difficult for our nation to invest for the future. President Obama’s focus on job creation is necessary and welcome.
Currently 15.7 million workers are jobless and when the unemployment and underemployment rates are combined they soar to 17.5 percent—more than 27 million workers.
A date for the summit will be announced soon.
This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on November 12, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.
About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. I came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When my collar was still blue, I carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. I’ve also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold my blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen me at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. I was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still have the shirts, lost the hair.