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August jobs report center of discussion for labor secretary, state treasurer

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scalia speaking
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia speaking in La Crosse at Dairyland Power.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia joined Vice President Mike Pence on his Labor Day trip to Dairyland Power Cooperative.

“Under the last president, it took us nearly three years, 34 months, to get unemployment under 8.5 percent," said Scalia. "We got it to 8.4 percent in just four months.”

The secretary praised the Trump administration, using the August jobs report as proof that the country’s economy is moving in the right direction.

“What it showed was really terrific," said Scalia. "We’ve now added 10.6 million jobs back to the economy since we bottomed out with the virus."

However, not all statistics are positive when it comes to that report.

"One of the things that I want to point to is the number of permanent layoffs," said Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin State Treasurer. "I mean that number increased significantly."

August showed that the U.S. lost 534,000 permanent jobs which brings the total to over 3.4 million.

"Until we get the virus under control, it’s going to be hard to ensure an effective recovery because that’s what businesses are looking for," said Godlewski. "They are looking at how is the white house providing a plan that will provide a clear recovery and how we can all act together to fight this disease."

In an exclusive interview with News 19, Scalia believes that the U.S. needs to continue reopening and stay the course, acknowledging the journey ahead. He said the longer the delay the more than permanent job losses will increase.

“We’re making really good headway, and we need to keep with that, pursuing the kinds of policies that the president has emphasized, and that’s a low tax burden, getting rid of un-need regulatory burdens and USMCA replacing NAFTA bringing back American jobs," said Scalia.

In his speech, Scalia also said unemployment was much too high for his liking but believes the pre-COVID strategies coupled with a focus on work training for specific jobs will help restore the U.S. to a prosperous economy.

Godlewski told News 19 that the Trump administration needs to formulate a better plan in combatting the virus, like creating a national mask mandate and promoting more social distancing.

"These are science-driven practices that will keep our businesses safe because we know right now, one in six small businesses have been shut down," said Godlewski.

The state treasurer also said that the jobs being created before COVID-19 are taking the country in the wrong direction from a business and environmental perspective.

"The Trump administration was actually creating jobs that were backward-looking and not forwards looking...," said Godlewski. "They were investing in coal instead of in green energy. We know the economy is going toward green energy and we need to be prepared to go there."

With COVID-19 still leaving a major strain on the economy and jobs market, causing people to lose their homes, state and national leaders will have to continue pursuing solutions to help restore the U.S. economy.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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