State of the Union: Jobs, jobs, jobs

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If you’re like millions of Americans, you tuned into President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. If you’re like millions of Americans, you might have tuned in accidentally because you forgot it was on and went to watch Modern Family, only to find Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos chatting with each other. So there’s a chance the only part you watched of Obama’s address was the beginning and that was merely by chance. Either way, even if you only saw the first 20 minutes, you heard one word a lot: jobs.

Over at Novaurora Blog, Jason Putorti made a handy word cloudfor Obama’s speech. Front and center, sandwiched between the oversized text of people and America is jobs. Obviously, getting people back to work is as much on his mind as it is on the average American’s.

If you go to the New York Times site, you can see video of the speech and the accompanying text. Along the top is a timeline of the address, so you can see when he moves from one point to another and see just how much of this speech was about the job situation. At 1:43 into the speech, he first mentions our current (or most recent, depending on whom you talk to) recession and unemployed Americans. At 9:18 he references unemployment benefits. At 10:51 he continues his discussion of employment and continues until 13:50, when he begins to discuss his plan to create jobs. And it goes on and on–you can read the full text (sans video) here. The point is that the state of our union depends on jobs, and surely most of you reading this know that. If you’re looking for work either because you’re unemployed or want a change, you realize how much your career influences all other aspects of your life, and that affects everyone else in the long run.

Here are just some of the speech’s moments relating to jobs:

One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who’d already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

That’s why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that’s why I’m calling for a new jobs bill tonight.

We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when companies that begin when an entrepreneur — when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it’s time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they’re ready to grow.

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities — and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.

But the truth is, these steps won’t make up for the seven million jobs that we’ve lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America’s families have confronted for years.

Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– an investment that could lead to the world’s cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year’s investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

Obviously, it’s a bittersweet topic–for every bit of enthusiasm, it’s tempered with the reality of today’s unemployment situation. And it’s controversial depending on your ideological standpoint, I’m sure. Certainly not everyone reading this blog agrees with Obama–either with what he says or what he’s done. And perspective certainly comes into play, too. The AP released its fact check of the speech. Some points he made were labeled as false, others true. And one key jobs assertion? Well, that depends…

OBAMA: “Because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. … And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.”

THE FACTS: The success of the Obama-pushed economic stimulus that Congress approved early last year has been an ongoing point of contention. In December, the administration reported that recipients of direct assistance from the government created or saved about 650,000 jobs. The number was based on self-reporting by recipients and some of the calculations were shown to be in error.

The Congressional Budget Office has been much more guarded than Obama in characterizing the success of the stimulus plan. In November, it reported that the stimulus increased the number of people employed by between 600,000 and 1.6 million “compared with what those values would have been otherwise.” It said the ranges “reflect the uncertainty of such estimates.” And it added, “It is impossible to determine how many of the reported jobs would have existed in the absence of the stimulus package.”

So what does this all mean? Ultimately, everyone is trying to figure out how to get the job situation under control. You and I–aka regular people–want to know that we’ll have a paycheck tomorrow or find a new job when we want to. The president and Congress are trying to figure out how to make that that hope a reality (if for no other reason than to get reelected). We’ve also posted about the stimulus package of the last year, too. (See Stimulus package for job seekers and Great Jobs in the President’s Stimulus Plan) Everyone’s thinking about jobs–from you and me all the way up to the president.

If you watched last night and are reading this blog, jobs are certainly on your mind. So what was your reaction to Obama’s address? Let us know what your thoughts are on the job situation, his plans and what he’s done about jobs so far.

  1. I want to be positive about the economy turning around and the possibility of more jobs, but I am living the reality of not having a job since August. I am either over qualified because of my years of experience or under qualified because I lack a degree. At this point I just need a job.

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  3. The Pledge of Allegiance I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


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