Our Shared Sacrifice Threatens Our Shared Success

cement masonLabor Day, for some, signals a three day weekend and perhaps the unofficial end of summer. But for many households across America, Labor Day has become more than a just another day off of work because millions remain jobless.

Sadly there are 11.5 million people that cannot find jobs because there are three unemployed workers for every job opening.  Congress has delivered a double blow to these workers and their families: intentionally hitting the breaks on job growth and further cuts to investments in job training to prepare workers to compete in our evolving labor market.  Now more than ever we need to invest in America’s workers, especially our nation’s future workers, taxpayers and voters: youth.  In fact more than 30% of all youth enrolled in federal job training programs are Latino. 

On March 1, 2013 $1.2 trillion in automatic and indiscriminate budget cuts took effect– known as sequestration, and left our economy on edge.  Working families have already made their down payment on deficit reduction and; yet we have only raised revenue by $600 billion.  Our lawmakers’ failure to come to an agreement on the budget is affecting all Americans, including millions of Latino families.  By stopping the sequester cuts through 2014, we have the opportunity to create as many as 1.6 million jobs and put an end to the layoffs and furloughs for federal employees.  We can prevent putting our fragile economic recovery at risk.

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For most working families, budget cuts numbers aren’t abstract figures.  For Latinos, slow job growth will continue to prolong their already elevated unemployment.  Yet the dreary labor market outlook is coinciding with record growth in the Latino workforce; Hispanics will account for 80% of the growth in the workforce in the next four decades.  As the fastest-growing segment of our labor market, 23 million Latinos workers are helping to bolster our economic recovery.  Hispanics represent the success of America’s future economy.

Photo: Bread for the World
Photo: Bread for the World

We must make sure that all workers can strengthen their skills in order advance their careers and become contributing members to society.  Access to job training and employment services is especially important for Latino workers who often face a combination of barriers to employment, including limited educational attainment, limited basic skills, and limited English proficiency.  As it stands now, it is projected that nationally 290,000 fewer adults and youth will receive job training and employment services in 2013 compared to 2012 as a result of sequestration.  By 2050, one in three American workers and taxpayers will be Latino, an important consideration as our nation ages.  If Congress insists on more deficit reduction this year, they should not achieve it by cutting investments will ensure future prosperity for all Americans.

So on Labor Day — when we honor the contributions and sacrifice of America’s workers — let’s also reflect on the impact of the federal budget on our economy.  We need a budget that puts families before politics and grows the economy, creates jobs, invests in workers.  Because our shared sacrifice should not threaten our shared success.

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