Congressman Bob Gibbs

Representing the 7th District of Ohio

January 10th, 2014

January 10, 2014
Columns

As a new year begins, hardworking Americans around the country are grappling with continued economic uncertainty.  My colleagues and I in the House are working to get Washington out of the way, so that our economy can grow and Americans can get back to work. You and your family deserve a stronger economy with more jobs and opportunities, not skyrocketing healthcare costs and stagnant economic growth. The dismal jobs report for the month of December shows that the President’s policies are continuing to hurt our country’s economic growth. Although unemployment has gone down for the month of December, the decrease is due to Americans leaving the work force because they are no longer looking for employment.

A recent study showed that the Labor Force Participation Rate stands at 63 percent which is the lowest since April, 1978. This percentage translates into 91.27 million Americans who are no longer in the labor force. The labor-force participation rate consists of Americans 16 years or older who either have a job or have actively looked for one in the past four weeks. Those people who have not pursued work opportunities in the past four weeks are not counted as “unemployed” and they are not reflected in the jobs numbers. With almost 92 million Americans no longer pursuing employment opportunities, our economy will continue to suffer. 

Approximately 5.6 million Americans between the age of 18 and 34 are unable to find a suitable job. The House has passed dozens of bills that would help to create jobs and opportunities for those Americans who are out of work. One of these helpful bills is the SKILLS Act that would help Americans who need necessary job training. These bills have made it through the House and are now sitting on Harry Reid’s desk in the Senate. Each day that these vital jobs bills go untouched, more Americans will continue to be unemployed without the necessary resources that will help them get back on their feet. It is important that we provide resources and programs to give Americans a helping hand.

If the President is serious about getting Americans back to work he should follow our lead. We have passed bills that support private-sector job growth rather than create more uncertainty for business owners. The President could start by giving Americans an exemption from Obamacare and its burdensome regulations. The rate shock hitting the middle class is making it harder for American families’ to make ends meet. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) found that the tax hikes related to Obamacare, “will shrink hiring by 146,000 to 262,000 jobs over the next decade.” More and more businesses are knocking their full-time employees down to part-time work to comply with the Obamacare regulations. Businesses are unable to maintain full-time employees and give them the benefits they have worked for.  Long-term unemployment, which is considered to be 27 weeks of unemployment, has remained unchanged at 4.06 million for the month of November.  With the current path we are on, it seems that long term unemployment has become the new normal for American families.

During the holiday break, I spoke with many of you and heard your frustrations with red tape regulations, rising healthcare costs and the shrinking job market. As we start the New Year, I remain focused on continuing policies that will put people back to work and restore healthcare decisions for people across the country. I look forward to the New Year and continuing to work in the best interest of the American people.