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May 9, 2009   
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OPA News Release: [05/08/2009]
Contact Name: Jennifer Kaplan
Phone Number: (202) 693-5052
Release Number: 09-0518-NAT

Statement of U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis on April employment numbers

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the April 2009 Employment Situation report released today:

"This past April, our economy lost 539,000 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs lost since this recession began to 5.7 million. The overall unemployment rate has increased to 8.9 percent.

"Behind these numbers are daily struggles and hard decisions. Americans are facing continued challenges in affording health care, paying for education and meeting monthly bills. The findings released today reflect the urgent needs of Americans, and they are the focus of this administration's immediate action and relief.

"We are moving aggressively to protect workers who have lost their jobs, to provide new training opportunities to assist workers in upgrading their skills, and to open new employment in emerging sectors such as green jobs and health information technology.

"This morning, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor and the Department of Education will work to coordinate efforts to lower the barriers for unemployed workers to pursue education and training, at the same time allowing them to keep their unemployment benefits.

"This program would allow unemployed workers receiving unemployment benefits to qualify for federal assistance for education and training. This aid would be significant for many American workers, particularly the Federal Pell Grant program, which can provide up to $5,350 for educational costs at community colleges, colleges and universities, and many trade and technical schools.

"The Department of Labor has released more than $31 million in National Emergency Grants to states facing mass layoff events and other emergencies, and we have distributed $50 million for Youth Build programs to expand services for at-risk youth and $250 million for the Job Corps. To date, the department has made available $45 billion of the $46 billion we are responsible for under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"As the comprehensive plan of the administration takes hold, we have begun to see signs of recovery. We've seen the financial system and the housing market stabilize. New jobs are being created as ground has broken on thousands of new infrastructure projects in all 50 states.

"Our nation is facing tough times, but America is no stranger to challenges. I know we can face this challenge with the same spirit of innovation and resilience that has characterized us in the past and that we can build a stronger, more prosperous nation."

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