Getting people back to work and helping struggling families
While there have been some positive indicators, economic recovery remains tenuous, and the impact of the economic downturn continues to take a heavy toll.
Here at home, communities across the 8th Congressional District have borne the full impact of the recession. In recent years, the number of unemployed men and women in King and Pierce counties has increased dramatically. Bankruptcies have jumped by more than 170 percent. Cities and towns are struggling to provide services that citizens need.
I believe it's critical that we help families that have been hit hard by the recession. We need to continue to help families address underwater mortgages, avoid bankruptcy, and see a doctor. The tens of thousands of families in the region who struggle with unemployment need the support and benefits required to find new employment and get back on track. We need to focus on creating new long term jobs and on providing training to help displaced workers develop new skills in areas of the economy that are growing.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of providing economic opportunities that create hope and lead to financial stability. I know firsthand what it means to live with financial uncertainty. I spent much of my childhood moving across the country as my parents searched for stability. Their financial challenges helped me understand that economic security is as much a matter of dignity and confidence as it is a matter of money.
Here are just a few things we can do to help people find good jobs and spur economic recovery in the region and the nation:
* Health care workers: While unemployment levels remain high, the local health care industry faces a serious shortage of employees, with thousands of unfilled jobs for people with training as nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, medical assistants, and in other health professions. One of my first priorities in Congress will be to work to expand training programs for health care workers.
* Exports and trade: Exports are an indispensible source of jobs,strengthen our manufacturing sector, and expanding exports is essential to building a strong economy and creating high-wage jobs for our citizens. I support the Obama Administration's National Export Initiative, a plan to double U.S. exports by 2015. We must also do more to level the playing field for American companies through strong international standards for labor practices, the environment, and human rights.
* America's physical infrastructure: Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Traffic jams cost American businesses billions of dollars every year in lost productivity and efficiency. Smart investments in our national transportation infrastructure can help us create and sustain hundreds of thousands of new jobs in construction while delivering a strong positive long-term impact on the economy.
* Community banks: Small local banks are one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to get capital to small businesses. I support efforts to strengthen the nation's community banks, including the Obama Administration's plans to create a Small Business Lending Fund using money repaid by large banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
* Local development institutions: The fact is that people with great business ideas sometimes can't get the capital they need from traditional banking channels, especially if they are women or minorities. Local organizations like the Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (Washington CASH), which has helped low-income entrepreneurs launch more than 800 businesses through training programs and small loans, provide a compelling model for a sustainable approach to providing capital to revitalize low-income communities.