Normally an optimist, I must admit that it's so frustrating and so disappointing.
And no Administration spin can make this morning's job numbers anything but bad news. May's unemployment rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April, with only 69,000 jobs created -- far short of the 150,000 jobs economists expected. It's now been 40 straight months of unemployment above eight percent -- the longest period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression.
Economists are saying that people are simply giving up on their job search, and employers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for some positive economic indicators -- and policy changes -- to prove that it's safe to hire again.
The Commerce Department also on Thursday revised downward its GDP growth figure for the first quarter of the year -- to 1.9 percent, far short of the growth rates that have characterized most recoveries.
My colleagues and I are focused on reversing the failed policies that got us here. We've passed more than two dozen jobs bills that await action from the Senate, and our upcoming legislative calendar remains heavy on jobs. This week, by a vote of 387 to 5, the House approved H.R. 5651, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Reform Act, which will help our nation's medical businesses create jobs and expand the development of life-saving devices and drugs. And over the next few months, we'll work to stop expiring tax provisions from contributing to the largest tax hike in history.
On the local front, I'm looking forward to hosting a job fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21st at the Romeoville Recreation Center, 900 West Romeo Road. The Job Fair will feature a morning session for veterans only from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and an afternoon session that is open to all job seekers from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be held in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Village of Romeoville Veterans Commission, and DuPage Township. If your company is hiring and can participate, please fill out our registration form and email it to RSVPJobs@mail.house.gov or fax it to (630) 655-1061.
Bipartisanship on National Security and Veteran Spending
Speaking of our nation's heroes, last night, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which holds the line on unnecessary spending, and prioritizes $71.7 billion for military and veteran programs. Passed with bipartisan support by a vote 407-12, the bill funds important military training, equipment, and infrastructure as well as veterans benefits programs.
VOW to Hire Heroes Act
As you may know, the U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that unemployment soared to 12.1% in 2011 among veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's why it's so important that we connect veterans with the resources available to put them on the road to employment. As part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, there are new educational and job training benefits that will soon be available to veterans here in our community. To learn more about these programs and how to apply, click here.
Flood Breakthrough in the Senate
It's not too often that I have reason for optimism when it comes to legislative progress in the Senate, but this week, we reached a bipartisan breakthrough on efforts to reform the nation's debt-burdened flood insurance program. The House and Senate sent the President a 60-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) with cost-saving reforms similar to provisions I sponsored in a long-term reform package last July. More importantly, as part of the agreement, Senate leaders have promised to take-up a long-term, 5-year reform bill this June.
Since 2008, Congress has enacted 16 short-term extensions for the program, which has fallen more than $17 billion in debt. NFIP, which provides critical flood coverage for many flood-prone communities, was scheduled to expire this week, but this agreement will prevent a lapse and set the stage for a long-term solution that will safeguard homeowners and taxpayers alike. Last night, the President signed my 60-day NFIP extension into law, and I'm hopeful it will be the last NFIP stop-gap measure for many years.
As always, it's a pleasure to serve you. Do not hesitate to contact me at (630) 655-2052 if I can be of assistance to you.
Member of Congress