Minnesota AFL-CIO calls for comprehensive jobs plan
18 November 2009
|ST. PAUL - With Minnesota's unemployment rate now at 7.5 percent, Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson called on Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and the state Legislature to create an aggressive new jobs program announced in Washington by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
|“Working Minnesotans know,” Knutson said, “that a jobless recovery is no recovery at all. We need a coordinated national and state approach to putting people back to work.
“An average of six workers are competing for every open job nation-wide, but in Minnesota the situation is worse, with eight unemployed people competing for every job opening.
“We are calling on Congress and the Minnesota Legislature to restore a strong federal safety net AND to take steps to create good-paying, sustainable jobs throughout our state and our nation,” Knutson said.
In a speech Tuesday to the Economic Policy Institute, national AFL-CIO President Trumka announced several elements critical to a plan to restore jobs and the economy:
1. Extend the safety net. Congress must extend unemployment benefits, food assistance and health care for the unemployed. Without Congressional action, partial health care coverage (65% COBRA) will expire at the end of this year and extended unemployment benefits will expire mid-February 2010. And without these benefits, the nation’s downward spiral will accelerate as more families fall into bankruptcy.
2. Rebuild crumbling schools, roads and energy systems. Congress must help put Minnesotans back to work repairing and rebuilding our state’s crumbling roads, bridges, schools and water and sewage systems. Nationally, there is a backlog of at least $3 trillion of pressing needs. Every dollar spent on infrastructure employs workers in US construction, manufacturing, design and engineering projects.
3. End the financing gridlock-- bring TARP funds to Main Street. In Minnesota alone, there are up to $5 billion in shovel-ready projects waiting for funding, the AFL-CIO said. The Obama administration must put TARP funds to work on Main Street. It is time to establish a fund to lend TARP money directly to small- and medium-sized businesses at commercial rates. The fund should be managed by the community banks left out of the Wall Street bailout. (Minnesota’s Building Jobs Coalition estimates that each $1 billion in non-residential construction spending leads to 14,300 jobs.)
4. Boost aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services. Congress must boost aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services and prevent more layoffs. In Minnesota, the Governor Tim Pawlenty’s mismanagement of the revenue system has cost the state thousands of jobs in both the public and private sectors, Knutson said.
5. Fund new jobs in communities. The successful Minnesota MEED job creation program, which helped the state emerge from the economic downturn of the 1980’s could be reintroduced and used as a model for similar programs nationally. Any jobs program must provide family supporting wages.
Currently, Minnesota’s unemployment rate stands at 7.3 percent. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is slated to release the state’s October 2009 employment data on Thursday.
For more information
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has released the state’s October 2009 employment data showing unemployment up two tenths of a percent to 7.5 percent.
Learn more about the AFL-CIO jobs plan.