The president vows to remove restrictions that make it difficult for the newly unemployed to seek job training and education.
With the April unemployment numbers providing a bleak context, President Obama announced at a Friday morning press conference new measures to help unemployed workers get access to educational opportunities.
Currently, he observed, workers in many states who want to take advantage of job training programs or federal financial assistance for education have to give up their unemployment benefits. Obama called this a “senseless” rule and vowed to change it. From now on, newly unemployed workers should be able to keep their benefits, and be able to get such help as that offered by Pell grants.
The initiative fit neatly into Obama’s consistent emphasis on improving education. “Someone who doesn’t have a college degree is more than twice as likely to be unemployed,” he said, calling for every American to commit to at least one year of higher education after high school. “Education,” the president said, “is the single best bet we can make, not just for individuals but for the nation.”
Obama attempted to put a mildly positive spin on the new unemployment numbers, calling the fact that April registered the lowest monthly loss in six months “somewhat encouraging but still a sobering toll.” He suggested that “the gears of our economic engine appear to be slowly turning again,” and that “step by step we are beginning to make progress.”
He also announced a snazzy looking new Web site, Opportunity.gov, that aims to connect unemployed workers with the resources they need to get ahead. “Applying for financial aid and finding education and training are not difficult,” enthuses the Web site, along with a big “Get Started” button.
How much of an impact will the new changes make in the short term? Certainly not enough to make more than a small incremental improvement in the labor situation. But Obama is selling this first step as just a prelude to a fundamental rethinking and reorganization of how the government approaches job training and education for newly unemployed workers, and he argued on the campaign trail and during the runup to passing the stimulus bill for a greatly expanded Pell Grant program. If he follows through on his proposals and promises, he stands a chance of helping Americans deal with the competitive challenges posed by globalization, technological progress, and an economic contraction. Not a bad day of work.
More Related Stories
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11