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Rhode Island's Congressman Jim Langevin Focuses on Job Creation


It doesn't feel as though jobs have really been talked about much over the past few years, other than a lot of lip-service about shovel-ready jobs. President Obama said unemployment would be held down, but the ranks of the unemployed keep growing, more in some areas than others.

Last week, the U.S. Labor Department said the July unemployment rate was 9.1%. It was a reduction of 0.1%, down from 9.2% in June. There was an increase of 117,000 jobs overall in July, a combination of 154,000 new private sector jobs and a loss of 37,000 in the public sector. Many of those lost in the public sector were due to a Minnesota government shut down.

unemployment by state
Unemployment rates by state, seasonally adjusted, June 2011
Graphic: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Often, it is difficult for us to get answers from members of Congress and many of them only seem to want to talk about their big issues, so real jobs don't often rate a mention. We do see some members taking a very active role in their community. Rhode Island's Democratic Congressman, Jim Langevin is one of those and he is open to answering questions.

The main premise of our questions centered on job creation and that it feels like job creation is only just being talked about now. We wanted to know why it hasn't been approached seriously before.

The "Stimulus" money appears to have all been burned up and it didn't result in anywhere near enough jobs. We see from the unemployment figures, which don't show long term unemployed, that some states have much higher unemployment.

redstate bluestate unemplyment
Redstate-bluestate unemployment rates by state, seasonally adjusted, June 2011, colors based on presidential voting over 20 years.
Graphic: Bureau of Labor Statistics
We asked about the money that was spent on big projects that burned up the cash but didn't get enough unemployed people back to work. As those large projects come to completion, what is the next step, now that the money has gone?

Jonathon Dworkin, Communications Director for Congressman Jim Langevin told NewsBlaze:

I can't speak for anyone else, but jobs has been at the top of Congressman Langevin's agenda throughout the economic downturn. He has recognized that while the Stimulus, along with other measures like the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act passed last August, was necessary to prevent a depression, we have more work to do in this area.

At a town hall meeting this past March, Congressman Langevin said

"Everything I do in Washington and at home is with an eye toward the impact it will have on creating jobs and accelerating our still fragile economic recovery."

"It is the major objective of my Women in Small Business forum at CCRI tomorrow. It's also why I have been a strong advocate of easing burdens on small businesses, such as removing excessive paperwork that increased taxes, opposing the Republican budget proposal estimated to cost us 700,000 jobs, and fighting efforts to repeal the health care law, which would eliminate up to 400,000 jobs a year."

See Langevin Addresses Rhode Islanders' Top Issues at Town Mall

Dworkin said, "With the gridlock in Washington, unfortunately many measures to address unemployment that Langevin has supported have not been able to move forward. However, he has looked for other ways to spur job creation in Rhode Island, which has the nation's third highest unemployment rate."

Langevin put on a forum for women entrepreneurs to give them access to resources that help them startup and expand.

There seems to be a gap between the skills Rhode Island employers need and the skills Rhode Islanders have, resulting in many open positions remaining unfilled, even during a time of high unemployment.

Langevin worked on another event that brought together business, education and labor issues to work toward closing the skills. At that conference, Langevin laid out a number of steps he is pursuing to improve workforce development.

About the future, NewsBlaze asked Congressman Langevin What's next?

Dworking told NewsBlaze "You can see from his letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi yesterday some of the other proposals that he is advocating as part of 'what's next.' These include upgrading our infrastructure, patent reform and investments in research"

See Langevin Asks Leadership to Bring Congress Back in Session to Act on Jobs.

Another release today from Langevin's office focused on jobs proposals from the event with the New England Council.

Congressman Langevin says he has been talking about job creation consistently. He shares people's frustration that more progress has not been made in Washington, but he is making every effort to address the issue. NewsBlaze wishes him well with bringing down the high unemployment in his state and in convincing Congress to pay more attention to jobs.

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