By VANESSA CAMARGO
President Barack Obama called for more job creation and an increase in minimum wage to $9 an hour, in his State of the Union address on Jan. 29.
Obama announced the launch of manufacturing houses to accelerate job creation. He proposed a Fix-It-First program that would put people to work on about 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across America. He also stressed that no American who works a full time job should be at the level of poverty. He proposed that the minimum wage rate should now be at $9 an hour, from the current rate, $7.25.
“These initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, house; all these things will help entrepreneurs and small businesses expand and create new jobs,” Obama said in a televised speech.
Obama’s proposals resonated with students who are concerned about finding jobs in the future. His proposed minimum wage increase pleased some students.
“That was really nice to hear,” Matt Bonner, a sophomore studying business, said. “It’s getting tough to find a stable job these days. I don’t know what the job world is going to be when I graduate but it’s good to hear that they’ll start people off at a reasonable amount.”
Although, Obama’s proposal did not win over David Drost, a 2004 graduate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. Drost assures that this is not the right solution to help Americans stay out of poverty.
“Raising the minimum wage is a good thing but raising it that much at one time is an unnecessary good thing because that money has to come from somewhere,” Drost said. “If you’re giving this person more money, who’s getting fired to make up that difference?”
Obama also plans to help America’s economic growth.
“A growing economy that creates good middle class jobs that must be our North Star that guides our efforts,” Obama said.
Although the economy has been adding 4-5 million new jobs in the last 27 months, there are still many who have not been able to find a full time job. According to the National Public Radio’s planet money report done in May 2012, over 12 million people are unemployed and 10 million cannot find full time jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded in February that 12.3 million people are unemployed. That puts the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, which has been close or equivalent to that same rate since September 2012. The BLS reported that the unemployment rate in New Jersey was at 9.6 percent in December 2012.
Obama announced proposals that should help America build a rising and thriving middle class.
Eighteen months ago, Obama proposed the American Jobs Act that economist said would create over one million new jobs. The last Congress approved and passed some of that agenda. Obama urges this year’s lawmakers to pass the rest.
Not only did the president encourage that this act be fully passed, but he made additional proposals on the matter as well. He assured that nothing he was proposing should increase the deficit by a single “dime.”
“It is not a bigger government we need but a smarter government that sets priorities and invest in broad base growth,” Obama said.
Obama says he wants to make America a “magnet” for new jobs and manufacturing. Over the last three years, manufacturers have added 500,000 new jobs. Many companies like Caterpillar, Ford and Apple are bringing manufacturing business back to America.
Obama added that in order to have a well-established middle class it has to start with education at the earliest possible age. Obama plans to redesign America’s high school to prepare graduates as best as possible for the demands of a highly technical economy.
Some students question whether the new presidential term can actually change things for the better of this economy.
“I think Obama has good intentions with these plans, but I still think these things are going to take a lot more to accomplish,” Diana Alejandra Camargo, nursing major at County College of Morris, said. “It’s great that he wants to help out people who are pursuing a job in the technical field with an early education, but there are still a lot of other types of jobs that need this same attention. There’s still a lot that’s being left out.”