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Time to Get America Back to Work

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 By Jerry OsterContact
April 12, 2010

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Better jobs news is seen by some economists as a hint that the tide may be turning when it comes to record unemployment levels across much of the country. More than 160,000 jobs were added in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, but at the same time, the nation's unemployment rate stayed stuck at 9.7 percent.

South Dakota State Federation of Labor president Mark Anderson says the data show the need for Congress to take action on the the stalled "Local Jobs For America Act."

"We've lost between eight and 11 million jobs. When those kind of jobs go away, that's income out of every community. So we got to start figuring out how to put those jobs back."

The bill's price tag, at $75 billion over two years, is the big sticking point for the legislation. Anderson says, however, that big moves are needed. He points to an Economic Policy Institute report that outlines how 150,000 new jobs are needed each month nationwide to keep up with employment needs, and that's on top of as many as 11 million positions that disappeared in the recession and that need to be recreated.

"If you get things started like this jobs bill is talking about, and putting money in the pocket of workers, that spreads out in the whole community, and it gets into the economy. Once it gets started it gets snowballing and jobs start picking up everywhere. That's the hope that this bill can get passed and will get things going again."

Anderson says if the bill becomes law, many of the job creation decisions would be made at the local level.

"It'll come down to governors and mayors, and I think part of it goes through the Workforce Investment Act. Now it'll depend on what local elected officials decide to do with it."

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics news release on new employment numbers states that March's job creation numbers aren't high enough yet to reverse recession losses.

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