Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to Sacramento’s Unemployed: Help Is On the Way…?

banner-green-labor-dayhilda-solis The fact that California is in dire straits (economically speaking) is no new news. But for anyone wondering just how bad it is, a recent visit by Obama’s newly sworn-in Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, to Cali’s capital should clarify the issue. Solis visited Sacramento Friday on a promissory tour. If Solis’ consolations are true, help should be on the way for Californians and businesses struggling in the current economy. But what does this mean for the state’s sustainability efforts?

According to a report by The Sacramento Bee, Solis is touring the country in an effort to promote Obama administration’s stimulus plan nationwide. She stopped at a Sacramento Employment and Training Agency job search center in Foothill Farms because, of the numerous American communities hard-hit by the recession, Sacramento is one of the hardest hit. (Last January, the city’s unemployment rate reached 10.4 percent, a high not seen there since the 1980’s. [The national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent.]

Solis’ message to a group of laid-off-white-collar-workers in attendance was relatively straightforward: the government will distribute additional stimulus funds, including those slated for job training and an extra $25 per week in unemployment moneys per person, as soon as possible. (Another Employment Development Department official said additional retraining funds should begin reaching local agencies by mid-April.) In the meantime, the unemployed should take advantage of job-training dollars and other resources that are currently available. (The stimulus package has funded a number of measures, including green job training through California’s Green Corps, launched in March 2009.) Solis also talked up green technology, which will receive billions under the stimulus plan.

While many of the professionals present appreciated her visit, some wondered, as did I, whether or not the information she presented pertained to actual, timely job possibilities. In other words, will job training and sustainable industry growth be enough to re-employ the unemployed, and will they help employees as well as businesses? And if not, will an extra $25 bucks a week in unemployment be enough to sustain the jobless in the meantime? After all, projections of sustainable business growth in the long-term are inspiring indeed, but for families and individuals with immediate, pressing needs, they may appear as mirages on the horizon: distant solutions that just don’t cut it now. And what about workers not interested or invested in the emerging green job market? Do viable, fast-acting solutions to these dilemmas even exist?

What do you think?

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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