The beginning of summer marks high school and college graduations across the country. While the U.S. has seen two years of continued private sector job growth, this summer a wave of young job-seekers will enter a very crowded and competitive job market. Less than half of 2011 college graduates have found full-time work.
Unfortunately after more than 500 days in the majority, Republicans in Congress have taken no action to improve job opportunities for young adults entering the job market and other adults looking for work. They have instead chosen to focus on protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and stripping funding from our social safety net.
Less than two weeks ago, Speaker John Boehner blocked consideration of the Senate-passed Highway Transportation Bill to fund federal transportation programs that create jobs. Congressional Republicans instead passed a partisan version that would cut highway investments in 45 states and D.C. and eliminate funding for transit programs like Metro, harming more than 500,000 jobs.
The Senate version of the bill, one that passed 74-22, demonstrates what we know to be true – investing in our federal infrastructure creates jobs for our recent high school and higher education graduates. In fact, the Senate bill would create or save two million jobs. The American Alliance for Manufacturing states that every billion dollars of infrastructure investment creates 18,000 jobs here in America. With $2.2 trillion in needed investments, Republican calls to cut repairs to our crumbling infrastructure are unwise from a public safety and economic perspective.
Further, millions of college graduates will face an additional financial burden even after they find work. If House Republicans refuse to accept the Senate legislation, student loan interest rates will double on July 1st. An increase of this magnitude would impact over seven million college students – including more than 175,000 Virginians – and add nearly $1,000 each year to the average student loan.
The average college student graduates with $25,000 in student debt, and tuition is rising at colleges and universities across the country. Reducing the federal deficit will require tough choices, but it is penny wise and pound foolish to try to balance the federal budget on the backs of our younger generations and take no action to improve job opportunities when they graduate.
To assist Northern Virginia residents of all ages looking for career opportunities, my office will host a “Job Hunters Boot Camp” on June 26. The morning-long event features a job and resource fair, industry-specific panel discussions featuring local employers and breakout workshops on resume tips and interviewing skills. Registration is now open and available on my website at www.moran.house.gov.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.