WASHINGTON - June 4 - While were pleased the country has begun to experience job growth, were still far from where working families need this country to be. The economy is not yet creating enough jobs to keep pace with workers entering the labor force and were still way behind the employment levels of three and a half years ago. We have 1.2 million fewer jobs than when President Bush took office, and the painfully slow recovery has left far too many people out.
Long-term unemployment is a profound problem even today, with the average length of unemployment at its highest level since 1983. In May, it rose to 20 weeks, up from 19.7 weeks in April, and almost 22 percent of all unemployed workers have been without work for 27 weeks or more. Yet, President Bush and Congress repeatedly have failed to extend unemployment benefits for these long-term unemployed workers.
And were not creating good, family-supporting jobs with benefits. Jobs in growing industries pay, on average, 20 percent less than jobs in declining sectors. We need good jobs with health care and retirement benefits to stop the erosion of our nations middle-class.
With gasoline prices above $2 a gallon and workers premiums for family health care coverage rising nearly 50 percent over the last three years, working families cannot make ends meet. The nations 8.2 million unemployed have made painful sacrifices to remain afloatselling their cars and mortgaging their homes to stay one step ahead of bill collectors, buying food instead of medication and postponing college educations for their children.
Its nearly three years since the recession endedand yet we have not turned the tide on the jobs crisis. We need aggressive economic policies that will create good-paying jobs to restore our nations deteriorating middle-class and help those struggling to pull themselves up out of poverty-level jobs or no jobs at all.