Presidential Radio Address - 1 October 1983
My fellow Americans:
With autumn here, schools reopened, and people back at work, a question is on everyone's mind: Will the economic recovery last and the job market continue to improve? Well, I believe the answer is yes. I'm bullish on America. I've been called an optimist. But I'm not like the fellow who notices a car has a fiat tire, and says, "It's all right; the tire's only flat on the bottom." My optimism springs from solid evidence that America has turned the corner toward long term economic expansion. If all of us act responsibly we can enjoy a renaissance of growth, progress, and opportunities, free from the ruinous inflation and record interest rates of old.
America's job picture will improve during the next 3 months, and it's likely to get even better after April. That's the good news from a nationwide survey of 11,400 employers in 354 cities, conducted by Manpower, Incorporated. Other recent surveys reflect increases in help wanted ads across the country. Some of the biggest increases were in the areas that need jobs the most-industrial Midwest States like Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Georgia, Maryland, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky also saw increases above the national average.
Growth creates more growth. As workers are called back and start receiving paychecks, the economy expands, increasing the need for still more workers. Since last December the number of unemployed has declined by 1.3 million, and economic growth has added nearly 2 1/2 million people to America's work force. But we must not rest till every American who wants a job can find a job. We need the strength of every back and the power of every mind. Still, let's not be swayed by downbeats who never admit anything's right, never acknowledge the huge problems we inherited, and never admit the progress we've made reducing inflation, interest rates, and yes, creating new jobs.
The truth is more Americans are working now than at any time in this nation's history. The rising tide of employment is reaching across America into communities large and small, farms and factories, and it's helping people from all walks of life. Sixty percent of the jobs lost in the construction industry during the last recession have been recovered; add to that 70 percent of the jobs in furniture and fixtures, 90 percent in rubber and plastics, 90 percent in automobiles, and 125 percent in lumber and wood products.
One of the most encouraging trends we're seeing is higher employment for women: 2.3 million more women are working now than before we took office. And the jobs are better, too. Women filled more than half of all new jobs in managerial, professional, and technical fields between 1980 and 1982. Also, did you know that self-employed women are the fastest growing part of our business community—growing, in fact, five times faster than the number of self-employed men? It puzzles me why we hear so little about this progress, this proof that opportunities for all Americans are expanding.
Now, many of the people who remain jobless are part of a category economists call "structural unemployment." They may live in economically depressed areas where firms and factories have become outmoded, or they may lack the skills and training needed to seize opportunities in the new service industries and areas of high technology. One of the most serious problems we still face is youth unemployment. Nearly 40 percent of the unemployed in America are less than 25 years old, and nearly half of that group are teenagers.
But there's hope. To strengthen the skills of young Americans, to provide new opportunities for prospective workers of all ages, we've charted a new approach that looks to the future rather than the past. Beginning today, October 1st, an historic and bold program—the Job Training Partnership Act-will train and retrain more than a million people a year for productive, lasting jobs in the private economy. At the core of my philosophy is the belief that progress begins with trusting people. You at the grassroots can spend your tax dollars far more wisely and productively than any collection of bureaucrats in the Federal Government. That's why this Job Training Partnership Act will be a major step forward from past programs.
Unlike the old CETA program run primarily by government officials and which either didn't provide enough training or else trained people for jobs that didn't exist, this program will be planned by business and labor people in your own communities-those who know best what training is needed for existing jobs. They'll be receiving the block grants that the Federal Government sends to their own State governments. This time, private enterprise will be participating in a very meaningful way. The business and labor people will be working together in organizations called PIC's—Private Industry Councils, designed to provide training skills needed right on Main Street America. At least 70 cents of every Job Training Partnership Act dollar must go to training.
On Monday, the Indianapolis Private Industry Council will start sponsoring training at ITT to place low-income youth and adults in existing jobs. In Wilmington, welfare women will be trained for skilled, entry-level jobs. These are just two examples among many of hope being reborn across America. No civilization can survive and grow if it does not learn the lessons of its own history. The Job Training Partnership Act is an important reform that demonstrates we're not only correcting mistakes from our past, we're moving with wisdom and confidence to shape a brighter future. The outlook for America is good and getting better.
Till next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.