U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the June 2009 Employment Situation report:
Today's news is a reminder of the severity of the economic problem that this administration inherited and continues to illustrate the pressing needs of American working families.
The president and I are keenly aware of the challenges Americans are facing and their struggle is the single, most important focus of this administration. We will not be satisfied until we are seeing robust monthly job growth delivering income gains to American families across the economic spectrum.
When this administration took office, the economy was shedding jobs at a rate of 700,000 per month. This past June our economy lost 467,000 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs lost since this recession began to 6.5 million. The overall unemployment rate increased to 9.5 percent.
As the administration's policies take hold, there are signs that the economy is gaining strength. Consumer confidence is rising, and the housing and financial markets are stabilizing.
Through our urgent efforts we are helping millions of Americans who have lost their jobs to regain their footing in the workplace and to lay the foundation for a new and robust economy.
The department has released more than $57 million in National Emergency Grants to help communities cope with mass layoff events and other emergencies.
We additionally have released $1.7 billion in incentive payments to states that update their unemployment insurance eligibility requirements so that more workers — including recent entrants to the workforce and part-time workers — can access benefits. So far 25 states and the District of Columbia have qualified for these payments.
We are moving swiftly to protect workers who have lost their jobs and to provide new training opportunities so that workers can upgrade their skills and prepare for new employment in growing and emerging sectors like green jobs and health care.
The Department of Labor recently awarded 98 grants, totaling more than $25 million, through our Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. This program provides approximately 15,000 veterans with job training to help them succeed in civilian careers.
It is also of vital importance that we help our next generation succeed in the workforce. We have distributed $50 million for Youth Build programs to expand services to at-risk youth, and our Summer Youth Employment program will help employ more than 200,000 youth this summer. These efforts come in addition to the $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funds recently announced by the Vice President to help states support their education budgets.
The Recovery Act is providing much needed relief to the economy. At this very moment, 1,900 highway projects are already under way as $19 billion in transportation construction funds have been put to work. An additional $4 billion in loans and grants are creating jobs by bringing broadband service to un-served and underserved communities across America.
We are living through a time of extraordinary challenges, but Americans have long demonstrated an ability to face adversity with the dignity and strength necessary to achieve change. As I meet with workers all across this country, I am even more confident that we can meet these challenges with the same resilient attitude and commitment to innovation that has characterized our nation throughout its history.