Today, the U.S. Department of Labor'sBureau of Labor Statistics released its latest jobs report, which indicates the unemployment rate for June was unchanged at 8.2 percent.
"Today we witness historic debt and a historic real unemployment rate of 14.9 percent. After 41 straight months of unemployment above 8 percent, another dismal jobs report reinforces what we already know: economic growth has stalled and millions are jobless. In fact, the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of able Americans working or looking for work, remained near a 30-year low in June," said U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN).
"If the economy is going to turn around, it will be the hard work and ingenuity of our workers which will get it done -- not more spending, more taxes, and more debt. We have bridges and roads in desperate need of repair in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the importing of cheap and inferior Chinese and Brazilian steel for federal transportation construction projects hurts working families. At a time when other countries give massive subsidies to their steel makers, we should at the very least give our steel producers the first opportunity to supply steel for our bridge and highway projects," he added.
Importantly, the Cravaack "Buy America' steel amendment attached to the recent highway reauthorization bill will create U.S. jobs, secure U.S. steel production, and ensure that more American steel is used in federal transportation construction projects. Specifically, the amendment closes the "segmentation' loophole by ensuring that highway and bridge projects receiving federal aid cannot be "segmented' to evade "Buy America' preferences.
"The Congressman's 'Buy America' amendment will create private sector jobs for Minnesota workers. I believe government projects for highway and bridge construction should use not only domestic steel, but all domestic products when available. After all, American-paid tax dollars are being used for these projects," said Kraig Grivette, Maintenance Reliability Technician at United Taconite (Cliffs Natural Resources) and Member of USW Local 6860.
Previously, Rep. Cravaack was forced to defend "Buy America' from attempts to gut two-thirds of existing "Buy America' requirements and kill the jobs of the 3900 people directly employed by iron ore operations on Minnesota's Iron Range. Watch Rep. Cravaack's defense of "Buy America' here.
"Congressman Cravaack's "Buy America' amendment will greatly benefit the Iron Range. Closing loopholes to import cheap foreign steel and requiring that highways and bridges are built with American steel will increase jobs here in Minnesota, and not overseas," said Steve Biondich, Millwright at Arcelormittal Minorca Mine and Treasurer of USW Local 6115.
Currently, the "segmentation' loophole is a tactic utilized to avoid the "Buy America' preference, to the detriment of U.S. workers and iron ore producers.
"The American steel industry thanks Congressman Cravaack for his leadership on the "Buy America' amendment to H.R. 4348, which directly supports steel jobs," Thomas J. Gibson, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) said. "This amendment will end the practice of "segmentation' of U.S. taxpayer financed projects, which was most notoriously used on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to effectively export thousands of high-value jobs overseas. Congressman Cravaack's amendment ensures future roads and bridges will be made with top-quality American steel and by skilled American workers," he added.
Rep. Cravaack serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee -- where he is Vice Chair of the Aviation Subcommittee -- the Homeland Security Committee, and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. The 8th Congressional District covers 18 counties in Northeast Minnesota.