In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama made it clear that the nation’s middle-class employment was on the forefront of his mind.
To start, he pointed out that the current unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis hit and over the past five years, America’s businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs. More people are graduating from high school and college and overall, the economy is on an upswing.
“Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and all advanced economies combined.”
President Obama announced that when he submits his budget to Congress, it will include a way to make “childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”
If passed, the goal of this initiative would be to make life easier on working parents so they don’t have to worry so much about how they afford childcare. Or, have to chose to work or take care of their children.
Paid sick leave
It was brought to our attention in the State of the Union that America is the “only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.” In fact, President Obama says that 43 million Americans do not have paid sick leave, which “forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.”
The Obama administration will be taking steps to help states adopt paid sick leave laws and asked that Congress send him a bill to ensure that every American worker has the chance to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave.
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 was a main focus of the 2014 State of the Union, and in this year’s address, President Obama challenged “If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.” To those who aren’t up to the task, he asked that Congress vote to give America a raise.
“Things like childcare and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and higher minimum wage — these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families.”
Free community college
President Obama teased his plan to make community college free a few weeks ago, but officially announced his intentions last night. He pointed out that 40 percent of college students choose community college, from all walks of life. His plan is that America will make “two years of college become as free and universal in America as high school is today.”
We polled our Snagajob members to see what they thought of the free community college plan and found that:
In addition to free schooling, President Obama challenged employers to do a better job on training their employees to succeed. He asked that more companies follow the lead of CVS and UPS, who offer educational benefits and paid apprentices in order to invest in their current employees.
Jobs for veterans
According to the President, his administration is “making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs.” He specifically called out Joining Forces, which is a national campaign launched by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden that has “helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs.”
“So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.”
Keeping jobs in America
President Obama made it clear that his administration will make it priority for businesses to hire Americans and stay in the country. He mentioned that no one knows for certain which industries will generate a lot of jobs in the future, but he wants it clear that those companies should be in the United States.
“Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.”
He asked that Congress close the loopholes that seem to reward companies that make their profits abroad and pass legislation to incentivize those businesses to invest in America. Then he wants to use those savings to rebuild infrastructure and “make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home.”
“Helping hardworking families make ends meet. Giving them the tools they need for good-paying jobs in this new economy. Maintaining the conditions for growth and competitiveness. This is where America needs to go. I believe it’s where the American people want to go. It will make our economy stronger a year from now, 15 years from now, and deep into the century ahead.”
In addition to the priorities mentioned above, the President touched on climate change, fighting terrorism, affordable internet, and much more. You can check out the full transcript here.
What did you think of the speech? Let us know below!