News Column

Sec. Solis Affirms Labor Department's Work and Integrity

Oct. 12, 2012

Diane Stafford, The Kansas City Star

Hilda Solis

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on Thursday gave passionate support to the Labor Department's job training and safety offices and to the professionalism of its employees.

In Kansas City to meet with educators, business leaders and co-workers, Solis reserved a few minutes to emphasize the inability of the political process to "tinker or manipulate" data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Solis reacted to a tempest created by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who suggested in a tweet that Obama backers made the September national unemployment rate look better than it really was.

"You can't penetrate that system," Solis said of the statistical process used by the census and labor bureaus. "It follows through on a method laid out for the last 70 years. It's ludicrous to suggest manipulation, and you can quote me on that."

Welch later wrote an essay that backed away from the political accusation and focused on the inherent problems of statistical gathering processes that rely on individuals' answers to formulaic questions.

Solis spent part of her Kansas City visit touring the Kansas City Kansas Community College Technical Education Centers.

The school recently received $2.96 million in Labor Department grants to help train workers for high-skill manufacturing and technology jobs. The school has a new technical training center at 6535 State Ave., augmenting its current center at 2220 N. 59th St.

Solis said the grant illustrated an important partnership among government, education and industry, a union that's necessary to train or retrain workers to fill current and new jobs.

Solis also met for more than an hour with members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City in a reception at the Kansas City offices of the Burns & McDonnell engineering firm.

In wide-ranging remarks to about 100 people, she said the federal government is a key provider of safety and job training -- not just for minorities, youths, people with disabilities and military veterans, but for all workers.

She called the department's One-Stop Career Centers and Job Corps Centers important providers to help Americans be ready to fill growing jobs in manufacturing, technology, health care, green industry and renewable energy.

Solis also supported the administration's efforts to let the children of undocumented immigrants attend school, "work and pay taxes in America ... with no short cut."

She also said foreign-born students who earned degrees from U.S. universities should be allowed to work in the United States after graduation rather than having to return to their home countries "and compete against us" when their visas expire.

Source: (c)2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.). Distributed by MCT Information Services

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