Late this morning, President Obama spoke from the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. to address the Labor Department’s jobs report, which had the U.S. economy adding 117,000 jobs in July.
Obama cited the report, which beat economists’ expectations, as evidence that the economy is improving, slowly but surely. However, he urged lawmakers to put aside their differences and work together when Congress meets again in September in order to make the necessary steps toward improving the economy and creating jobs.
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The majority of President Obama’s speech focused on returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama cited examples of veterans who were qualified enough to serve their country, but returned state-side only to find that they couldn’t get a decent, well-paying job. He assured the public that the post-9/11 G.I. bill, which pays for veterans and their families to get the education they need to find employment, would continue to be fully funded.
Obama also announced an incentive for private-sector employers to hire returning veterans: the Returning Heroes Tax Credit. The new credit benefits any company hiring a veteran, and gives additional credits to those hiring veterans with disabilities. Obama set a goal for the private sector, which created 154,000 jobs in July for its seventeenth consecutive month of growth, to hire over 100,000 veterans or their family members by 2013. According to the president, the government has hired over 100,000 veterans to work as civilians in the last year and a half.
Obama noted companies in his speech that have already been doing their share. Siemens (NYSE:SI) set a goal for itself to hire 300 veterans in 2011, and having already met that goal with months to spare, made a new goal to create 100 more jobs by year’s end. He also noted Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) educational program, which will help over 10,000 veterans get IT certified over the next two years.