Over the last eight years, we’ve created more jobs than all the advanced economies in the world combined. Unemployment has been cut in half. Wages are finally on the rise. We’ve gone from economic crisis to recovery to the cusp of genuine resurgence—and we’re better positioned to own the 21st Century—economically and otherwise—than any other nation in the world.
But we know there’s more we can do and more than needs to be done to make this resurgence permanent. And it begins and ends with what the President and I have believed since day one—we have to give the American workers a fighting chance. We have to build the middle class. Restore the basic bargain, which was—if workers contribute to the success of an enterprise, then they should share in the gains. We have to make sure that everyone who’s worked hard and played by the rules has a real shot at getting into the middle-class and staying there.
Over the last eight years, we’ve worked with Congress to try to do all those things.
· Every worker in America—more than 160 million—got an average payroll tax cut of $1,000 per year;
· Better unemployment benefits for 18 million job-seekers during the recession;
· Trillions of dollars in tax cuts for low-and middle-income families.
And when Republicans in Congress didn’t act, we used our executive authority to—
· Extend overtime coverage for over 4 million workers—boosting their wages by $12 billion over the next decade.
· We’ve given additional paid sick leave to more than 1.1 million workers employed by federal contractors—and we’re requiring that those workers earn at least $10.10 per hour.
· Help to close the pay gap by fighting back against pay discrimination; making salaries more transparent—so employees know what others are making doing the same job. We’ve closed the pay gap between men and women by 10 percent. Not nearly enough—but it’s a start.
And we also called on cities and states to act across the country, and mayors and governors are leading the way to raise the minimum wage. Since the President’s call to action to increase the nation’s minimum wage back in 2013, every state from my state of Delaware and 18 others—and 55 cities—have raised their own minimum wage. From Alaska to California, Nebraska to Florida—workers now have a shot at a paycheck they can actually live on. Seven million workers have seen their wages rise. Earlier this month, four states—Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington, in this last general election, overwhelmingly passed minimum wage increases.
It matters. It really matters—because no one in America should work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty. Additionally, California, Rhode Island, Washington State and New Jersey— and more than two-dozen cities like Minneapolis and Spokane—have extended access to paid leave—expanded it.
You all know why that matters. In the neighborhoods where you and I grew up—if you miss a paycheck because you’re sick, or have to take care of a loved one—you could be in trouble for that month’s mortgage payment, the car payment—just paying the heating bill. Paid leave makes a real difference in ordinary people’s lives. We have to preserve the progress we made over the past eight years and continue to support states and cities in their fight for worker protections.
It’s not just for the workers who benefit—they’re not the only ones. The economy benefits—the overall economy. Companies benefit from higher productivity and less turnover. Communities benefit when people have more money to spend at local stores, the diner, the movie theater. The entire economy grows.
Folks, there is so much more to be done to seize the immense possibilities within our reach. We are better positioned than any country in the world to own the 21st century. But we have to address the economic anxieties brought on by globalization. They’re real. The increasingly rapid movement of people, money, goods and ideas around the world—we can do that.
But we need to recognize that globalization hasn’t been an un-alloyed good—and we need to empower those who have paid the price of that globalization. There’s many things we can do to level this playing field. Because given a chance—American workers never, ever let their country down. But they need a chance.
And I just want to thank you all. Thank you all for the faith you have in this great country because, as I said, we are better positioned than any nation in the world to own the 21st century. We know how to do it. Insist that we do it.
And have not only a great weekend this weekend, but have a great Thanksgiving weekend—because we have much to be thankful for.
God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. （８２８語）