On the day that news broke that the overall unemployment rate for February remained unchanged while the Black unemployment rate increased slightly, there was reason for those in need of a job to pay attention.
Today, at a Rolls-Royce plant in Prince George, Virginia, President Obama highlighted the need to revisit the days when manufacturing jobs were at a premium. “They paid enough to own a home, and raise kids and send them to college, gave you enough to retire on with dignity and respect. They were jobs that told us something more important than how much we were worth; they told us what we were worth.”
That message resonates with the Black community, harkening back to a time in our history when African-American workers flocked to manufacturing jobs. They traveled to industrial corridors in the Northeast and Midwest in hopes of landing employment that offered good wages and security.
Obama announced plans to begin institutes of manufacturing called the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation which will be a hub for engineering schools and innovative manufacturers to collaborate on new technology and innovation. “And sparking this network of innovation across the country — it will create jobs and it will keep America in the manufacturing game,” said President Obama.
The president also announced efforts to stop the flight of companies taking manufacturing jobs overseas. Many of those companies receive tax breaks in return, a practice President Obama disagrees with. “It makes no sense. Everybody knows it,” he told the crowd. “So it's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas; reward companies that create good jobs right here in the United States of America.”
With the addition of manufacturing jobs last month, there is still plenty of ground to replenish the losses suffered early in the Obama Administration.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said in a statement, “Any new job is a welcome paycheck for the American worker, but as past recoveries show, the current rate of growth will leave the American economy sputtering for years to come."
The president concluded on a more hopeful note while acknowledging the slow slog ahead for the economy.
"Day by day, we're restoring this economy from crisis," Obama said. "But we can't stop there. We've got to make this economy ready for tomorrow."
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(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)