The best path forward for the U.S. economy is for “business and the workforce to work together,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh said during a Leadership Café on May 3 hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee and Goucher College.
Donald C. Fry, President & CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee and Dr. Mileah Kromer, associate professor of political science and director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher, moderated the event.
During his comments, the Secretary said the U.S is seeing a strong economic recovery from the pandemic, particularly in the labor market, with 9 million jobs added, 5.4 million new business created and “fewer people on unemployment than at any time since 1970.”
“Investing in our workforce is essential to the challenges we face with inflation,” while expanding apprenticeship opportunities is a key to a strong labor force, Sec. Walsh noted. Meanwhile, he said, the Biden administration is focused on improving equity in workforce training so that good paying job opportunities are available to all demographic groups.
He also noted that the federal government has a big opportunity to help reduce crime by supporting innovative programs that train those returning to society from incarceration so they can get a job. Employment has been shown to be a key way to prevent recidivism.
During a question and answer session with GBC members and Goucher staff and students in attendance, Sec. Walsh noted:
- One in three people in the U.S. currently are experiencing a mental health issue, but there is an overall lack of programs and services to meet the need. As a result, the federal government and private sector employers need to do more to provide workers with mental health counseling and services so the overall workforce can remain productive.
- It is currently a “great time” to be graduating from college as wages are rising, many employers are seeking college-educated talent and many employers are increasingly allowing employees to choose their own work model – whether it be in the office, remote or hybrid. Such flexibility is proving to increase productivity.
- With the Biden administration seeking greater federal investment to support the return of critical manufacturing industries to the U.S., such as microchips, the Labor Department is now working with employers to ensure the future workforce can provide an adequate supply of properly educated and skilled workers to fill jobs in those industries.