How the U.S. Workforce Will Forge Economic and Social Recovery

Secretary Marty Walsh of the U.S. Department of Labor discussed how the country’s workforce will address ongoing social issues and recover from the pandemic.


Air Date: October 26, 2021

Moderator: Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President, Chief Policy Officer and Head of Strategic Advocacy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: The Honorable Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of Labor, United States

The past year has seen countless obstacles that have exposed the U.S. to its deep-rooted issues. From the pandemic causing extreme stress and burnout across our workforce to major social issues, the country must find ways to forge recovery and make a permanent change.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spoke with Secretary Marty Walsh of the U.S. Department of Labor to discuss how the country can move forward with these concerns in mind.

The U.S. Must Prioritize Diversity in the Workforce

Workplace diversity is a priority for the U.S. as we recover from the pandemic, which disproportionately impacted women and people of color, and from ongoing social issues like racism.

“We have to be really intentional about making sure that diversity is at the forefront of all that we do because, too often, people of color and women have been left behind, and we're seeing it play out all across this country during the pandemic,” said Secretary Walsh. “We have an opportunity to change that dynamic moving forward.”

The U.S. Seeks to Create a Pathway for Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants have made substantial contributions to the country, yet there remain little-to-no opportunities for them to make a living in America.

“If anyone looks back at their family's history, there's a good chance that their families came from somewhere else,” said Secretary Walsh. “Immigrants have always helped drive our economy and given us a competitive edge here in the United States of America.”

Most businesses recognize the important role immigrants play in our economy and would like to create a pathway for them to stay in the U.S.

“Every single business in America that I've spoken to is all about comprehensive immigration reform, finding a pathway for the folks in this country that are undocumented, and creating a system moving forward.”

“For some reason, immigration has turned into a political issue, and it really has never been,” he added. “It's always been agreed to and supported bi-partisan.”

The Government Will Accommodate Workplace Safety and Invest in Job Training Strategies

Secretary Walsh noted that the Department of Labor is focused on supporting the long-term growth of the labor force post-pandemic. While progress might not be made overnight, the government must recognize the high rates of burnout and extreme stress and trauma that have stemmed from the coronavirus — especially for our essential workers.

“This year, many have decided that low-wage, poor working conditions aren't worth threatening their health or family over,” Secretary Walsh said.

He added that the pandemic hit people of color and women the hardest, which is an issue that needs to be addressed going forward.

“Workers need to be safe,” Secretary Walsh said. “They need to make sure they have opportunities for dignified jobs, with good living wages. They need to access job training to grow their careers. I think over the next six to eight months, we will see a major change in our country. But the change is going to be forever.”


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