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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the 6th American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Ivanka, for your visionary leadership of both the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board and the National Council of the American Worker. Thank you for bringing both groups together today. All of you being here at the White House is a testament to your dedication to the American workforce.

We must also commend the Advisory Board for calling an extraordinary meeting in mid-May to address the abrupt change and tremendous challenges facing American workers due to the pandemic.

Today, the U.S. economy is emerging from the greatest public health crisis in a century. I have been traveling the country over the past month, visiting companies, and talking to executives, workers, trade groups, and community leaders. Everywhere I go, there is optimism about the U.S. economy, and its near- and longer-term prospects for growth.

As Larry Kudlow will note, we thankfully see this reflected in recent economic indicators. The one data point I would highlight should give people hope about an economic recovery: the amount of money Americans are saving. This morning, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the personal savings rate was 23.2 percent in May, up from 8.4 percent in February, prior to the lockdowns.

Last month, Americans saved $4.1 trillion, up from $1.4 trillion in February. The Federal Reserve also reported last Friday that U.S. bank deposits have increased by $2.1 trillion since the lockdowns, from $13.4 trillion in February, to $15.5 trillion as of June 10.

Unlike in 2008, our financial system is sound, and as enterprises reopen, Americans will be investing money back into local economies; and furloughed workers will be rehired.

Since producing its “Call to Action on Investing in American Workers to Expedite the Economic Recovery,” the Advisory Board’s four working groups have come together multiple times to expand on those initial recommendations. You have outlined the means required to:

  • Expedite American workers’ return to employment and upward mobility by investing in career pathways and implementing skills-based hiring practices;
  • Remove obstacles in American education and training to accelerate reskilling, and facilitate innovation in workforce development;
  • And, you have recommended that we build the technological infrastructure necessary for the future of work.

Today our working group co-chairs will share how they have expanded on that “Call to Action.” We will discuss recommendations to expand access to broadband, and encourage more employer training investments. We also will discuss how the Advisory Board’s recommendations are spurring action in the federal government and the private sector.

Secretary Scalia, OMB Acting Director Voight, and Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Beach, will share their work on implementing the Advisory Board’s recommendations, along with requirements in the President’s original Executive Order establishing the Council.

We also will receive updates on the private sector-led workforce readiness campaign and on interoperable learning record pilots.

Again, your effort to be here demonstrates an abiding support of American workers. On their behalf, thank you.

Leadership