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Reversing the diminishing workforce

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

The reality of our frustrating jobs outlook in the United States must be addressed. The most recent monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while the unemployment rate decreased to 6.7 percent in December, only 74,000 people found jobs and labor force participation fell once again. Last month, 347,000 Americans dropped out of the workforce, driving the Labor Force Participation Rate – a measure of those who are employed or unemployed and actively looking for work – to 62.8 percent. This represents its lowest level since the Carter Administration in 1978.

 

When broken down, for every one person who found a job last month, more than four stopped looking for employment. The growing number of Americans who have simply given up hope of ever finding a job and stopped looking altogether is alarming.

 

Just a few days ago, President Obama called for this to be a “year of action.” I wholeheartedly agree that this must be a year of action to propel economic growth. However, actions by the Administration that make it increasingly difficult for small businesses to hire or efforts that continue to recklessly spend taxpayer dollars will not be the solution. Instead of working on his own and acting outside of Congress, I hope that the President will instead work in a bipartisan manner with Congress to advance legislation to create a workable regulatory environment and encourage job creation and economic growth.

 

If the current economic environment is not conducive to getting more Americans back in the workforce, then common sense tells us that it must be improved. The House of Representatives has already passed numerous bills that would help to remove barriers to job creation, including eliminating certain regulatory burdens, permitting access to affordable energy resources, and strengthening our workforce development system though legislation like the SKILLS Act. The House Judiciary Committee, which I chair, will also continue aggressive oversight of federal agencies and hold the Administration accountable for their executive decrees and regulations that unfairly burden job creators.

 

The diminishing workforce makes it clear that our economy is still not where it should be. While more and more Americans stop looking for work, we continue to see a pattern of refusal by the Democratic leadership in the Senate to take up House-passed jobs bills. This must be reversed. Instead of policies that increase reliance on the federal government and continue the stagnant job market, we must promote policies that empower individuals and create more opportunities for work. I will continue working to keep the focus on jobs and get folks in the Sixth District and across the nation back to work.