U.S. Senator Ben Cardin

Letters From Ben

09/03/2022

America is Working Again

Dear Fellow Marylanders, 

At 8:30am ET, on the first Friday of every month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases what it calls the “Employment Situation Summary.” This is a snapshot in time of how many people are working during the previous month, how many people are unemployed, what industries saw job growth and where jobs were lost. Comparisons are made month-to-month and typically year-over-year (2022 vs. 2021, for example). Some people call it the monthly jobs report.

The numbers released yesterday for the month of August continue the remarkable, even historic, trends in the U.S. job market. Currently, there are more people working in this country than at any time in our history.

We have now had 20 months of sustained job growth. – nearly 10 million since January 2021. Our national unemployment rate of 3.7% is among the lowest we’ve seen in five decades. Wages are up more than 5 percent. ALL of the jobs lost during the very worst of the COVID-19 pandemic have been recovered. So far, we are about 240,000 jobs above the pre-pandemic level. As the New York Times put it, after the July jobs numbers were released, “the recovery has been far swifter than those after previous recessions.”

In Maryland, our unemployment rate is 3.9%, slightly higher than the national average, but still the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic.

I’m talking about jobs today not only because the news continues to be extremely positive, but also because Monday is Labor Day. This holiday is a celebration of the workers who built this nation from the ground up and all those who keep it running day after day.

Labor Day is our annual opportunity to recognize the value, worth, and dignity of all workers. We honor their contributions to the strength and prosperity of our nation.

As President Joe Biden said recently, “America is a nation that was built on work. We can never lose sight of that. That’s why the strength and pace of our job recovery is so important.”

This historic pace of job recovery didn’t just happen magically. Majorities in Congress, working with President Biden, targeted federal investments into communities, small businesses and working families through the American Rescue Plan. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is putting Americans to work today and in the future by modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, including transit, ports, roads and bridges, expand broadband availability and fix our aging drinking water and wastewater systems. The CHIPS and Science Act, which incentivizes American manufacturing in semiconductors and other technology, already has sparked companies like Corning, Micron Technology, Honda and First Solar to announce multi-billion-dollar investments in U.S. factories and manufacturing. Most recently, the Inflation Reduction Act, invests in lowering energy costs and growing our clean energy sector in a way that will transform our economy, create more jobs at home and reduce harmful pollution.

These emerging jobs should prove positive for the millions of people in this country who are looking for work. Presently, there are more job openings than unemployed workers.

We also want to make sure the economic recovery and job growth nationwide is equitable. For August, the unemployment rate for African Americans in the U.S. was 6.4%. This is down from 8.7% one year ago, but still double the unemployment rate for whites.

For these reasons, it remains a high priority to expand skills training opportunities across Maryland and the country through federal grants to local community colleges, universities, nonprofits and other organizations. The goal is to better prepare and match potential employees with employers who need workers.

And for those who say all this spending is simply fueling inflation, I would counter that these investments in the economic health of our country, most of which have been paid for along the way, are driving down our deficits by $1.7 trillion – with more expected. There is much more work to be done, but we have shown that we can be fiscally responsible and invest in American workers, families and small businesses.

As you gather with family and friends on this Labor Day, I urge you to think about how far our nation has come over the last two years. Collectively, we have learned much about how to better support our workforce and the wellbeing of individual workers. The U.S. continues to be a magnet for those willing to work hard and dream of a better life for them and their family. We have set ourselves on a course for more history making in the future and that has me excited for what is ahead.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to reply to this email with your thoughts on this topic and others. Or use my website to share your opinion.

Sincerely,

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Ben Cardin

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