Federal government commitment to a skilled workforce; U.S. exports reach record levels.
On Jan. 31, 2014, President Obama signed a federal employer commitment addressing the issue of long-term unemployment in the U.S. This commitment follows the Presidential memorandum for the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor and Education regarding job-driven training for workers.
In a statement published on the Department of Commerce (DOC) website, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker commented: “As a business leader for 27 years, I know firsthand that the talent of our workers is the fundamental ingredient of a prosperous and dynamic America. Building a strong and skilled workforce has always been a personal passion for me, and I commend President Obama for recognizing the need to reassess how the federal government is investing in workforce training.
“Before I became Commerce Secretary, I helped launch Skills for America’s Future, a national employer-led initiative, and Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a local intermediary in Chicago focused on the long-term unemployed. These two public-private partnerships align employer needs with training to prepare our workers for positions that are available now, and set them on a real career path.
“Millions of Americans remain underemployed or unemployed despite there being 4 million open jobs in this country, which is why I have made skills a major focus, a first for the Commerce Department. Ensuring we have a talented and skilled workforce is a major pillar of the department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda,’ and I will do my part as Commerce Secretary to ensure that we give workers all the tools and training they need to make them competitive in a global marketplace.”
Open for business
The “Open for Business Agenda” outlines a bold new policy agenda focused on U.S. trade and investment, innovation and data. These core areas reflect the role of the Department of Commerce as the voice of business and embody the attributes of a globally competitive economy. They signal that the United States is indeed “open for business,” and newly focused on economic growth and job creation.
Among the new initiatives Secretary Pritzker announced are the next phase of the National Export Initiative; an enhanced and expanded program to attract foreign investment; a pioneering, first-time DOC effort to ensure that skills training programs meet industry needs; and public-private partnerships that enable businesses and communities to make better use of government data.
The Commerce Department plan builds on the significant progress the U.S. economy has made in recovering from the worst recession since World War II: 7.8 million new private sector jobs added in the last three and a half years; GDP at an all-time high; more exports than ever before; and a resilient manufacturing sector.
The agenda complements the broader Obama Administration blueprint for rebuilding the economy from the middle out, which calls for long-term fiscal reform, rate-lowering business tax reform, investments in infrastructure and education, and comprehensive immigration reform. Secretary Pritzker will be announcing more details on each of the Commerce Department’s priorities.
U.S. exports in 2013 set a new record for a fourth straight year, according to the DOC. “International Trade in U.S. Goods and Services” data released on Feb. 6, 2014, showed that exports rached $2.3 trillion in 2013, up nearly $700 billion since 2009. The U.S. trade deficit improved $63.1 billion from the past year, to $471.5 billion, the lowest since 2009. Merchandise exports to the 20 economies that have trade agreements with the United States reached a record $732.0 billion.
U.S. goods export sectors reached all-time highs across the board in 2013, including key industries such as automotive, industrial supplies, consumer goods, capital goods and petroleum. Imports of goods decreased for the first time since 2009.
“The fact is, we live in a globally connected world in which 95 percent of America’s consumer’s live outside our borders,” said Secretary Pritzker. “American companies clearly understand the value of selling their goods and services all over the world, which not only helps them expand, but also grows our economy and creates good jobs. Every $1 billion in additional exports supports approximately 5,000 U.S. jobs, and as such, trade and investment are critical to the strength of our economy.” Expanding trade and investment is a top priority of the Department of Commerce, and a key pillar of the Open for Business Agenda. For information, visit www.commerce.gov.