Solis defends Obama job creation while in Oakland

July 22, 2011 7:28:32 PM PDT
California business owners are adding people to their payrolls, but the state's unemployment rate continues to rise. Almost 29,000 new jobs were created last month, but a survey used to calculate the jobless rate puts it at 11.8 percent -- up one-tenth of a percent.

In the Bay Area, unemployment is generally better than the rest of the state, but in places like Tomales, Bay Point, San Pablo, East Palo Alto and San Martin, it's around 20 percent. And Oakland, at 15.4 percent, has the highest rate of any major city west of the Mississippi.

Oakland is also where Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis paid a visit Friday, defending against critics who say the Obama administration simply has not done enough to create more jobs.

At the Oakland Marriott, Solis appeared before the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance to tout President Obama's record on job creation.

"In the last 16 months, almost 2.2 million private sector jobs have been created, in the private sector, not the public sector," Solis said.

But Alameda County Republican Party Chair Roseann Slonsky-Breault says the Obama administration has delivered far fewer jobs than promised under the stimulus.

"First of all, the stimulus didn't work; we're over 9 percent unemployment still and we know there are millions of people who are no longer even bothering to look," Slonsky-Breault said.

After Solis' speech, more than 1,000 union members marched from downtown to City Hall, saying fewer tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy would help create more well-paying jobs for the middle class.

Meanwhile in Emeryville, Solis toured the corporate headquarters of Jamba Juice, a company that created 2,500 summer jobs for young people through a partnership with the Obama administration.

"We think it's especially important in the tough economy we find ourselves in," Jamba Juice CEO James White said. "We're fortunate that our business has been strengthening and we've been able to rise to the challenge."

But critics of the Obama administration say much more has to be done to create new jobs, with less emphasis on blaming the past administration for the current predicament.

"After he's been in office now 3 and a half years, I think he better start to own it," Slonsky-Breault said.

"We need to do more, I'm not debating that, that's why we need cooperation across the aisle," Solis said.

If with the private sector gains Solis mentioned, there have been large job losses in other areas, particularly government, which may account for the higher unemployment numbers this month.

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