YEAR IN REVIEW: Creating Economic Opportunity for All Americans in 2014
December 18, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama took office in the depths of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Six years later, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, and the decisive actions he took early on – to bring the economy back from the brink, to save the auto industry, and to build a new foundation for middle-class growth – we’ve made real progress.
The economy grew at a combined 4.2% pace in the second and third quarters of this year, the strongest six-month period of growth in more than a decade. American businesses have added new jobs for 57 consecutive months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation on record, for a total of 10.9 million new jobs. The pickup in the pace of job growth this year has come in industries with higher wages. And wages across the economy are rising – a very welcome sign for millions of American families.
The U.S. economic recovery took a major step forward in 2014, achieving a number of important milestones:
- Jobs: By November, 2014 was already the best year of job growth since 1999. ( The U.S. has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every advanced economy combined.)
- Manufacturing: The manufacturing sector added 15,000 jobs per month, and the average workweek for those workers is the highest since World War II.
- Education: The high school graduation rate is the highest on record, and more Americans are earning post-secondary degrees than ever before – the surest pathway to the middle class.
- Energy: America is now the number one oil and gas producer in the world. For the first time in nearly two decades, we produce more oil than we buy from abroad. And we’ve put tens of thousands of Americans to work harnessing energy from the wind and the sun. Just last month, President Obama and President Xi jointly announced the two countries’ respective post-2020 climate targets in Beijing – a move that will spark investment and innovation in clean energy technology and represent a substantial opportunity for U.S. companies.
- Housing: The continued rise in home prices has cut the number of underwater mortgages from a peak of 14 million to less than 4 million, and the share of mortgages in delinquency or foreclosure has been cut in half.
- Health Care: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 10 million Americans have gained health insurance in the past year alone. Meanwhile, due in part to reforms in the law, the price of health care has been rising at the slowest rate in nearly 50 years. (To sign up go to https://www.healthcare.gov)
- The Deficit: Under the President’s leadership, the deficit has been cut by nearly two-thirds as a share of the economy – putting America on a more sound financial footing for our kids and grandkids.
The President pledged that 2014 would be a year of action and he has spent the last 12 months working with Congress where he could and taking action on his own where needed to revitalize the economy. He also worked closely with leaders from businesses, nonprofits, education, and communities to expand opportunity for more American families. These efforts have helped contribute to economic progress in a number of ways. Some critical efforts include:
Supporting Job Creation Through Manufacturing and Exports
Manufacturing job growth doubled this year – to about 15,000 jobs per month compared to 7,000 jobs per month last year. In total, since February 2010, the United States has directly added 764,000 manufacturing jobs, with the sector expanding employment at its fastest rate in nearly two decades. And the United States’ renewed competitiveness in manufacturing is bringing production back, with 54 percent of U.S.-based manufacturers surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group actively considering bringing production back from China to the United States, up from 37 percent only 18 months prior. The Administration has helped support these efforts by taking steps including:
- Launching New Hubs as Part of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation
- Supporting Efforts to Foster Manufacturing Entrepreneurship and Investment in the United States
- Growing Our Investments in Advanced Manufacturing Research
- Another Year of Record-Breaking Exports
- The Made in Rural America Initiative Leads to a Boost in Small Rural Manufacturing Exports and Other Companies
- Intensifying and Broadening Our Export Promotion
- The Advocacy Center at the Department of Commerce Enjoyed a Record-Breaking Year in Helping U.S. Firms Win Contracts Abroad to Create Jobs at Home
Taking Action to Raise the Minimum Wage
Following President Obama’s call on Congress to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10, states, cities and counties, and business leaders have taken action on their own to increase wages across the country. And on February 12, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, requiring that workers on new Federal contracts be paid $10.10 an hour.
- 14 States Passed Minimum Wage Increases – and 7 Million Workers Are Set to Benefit From Increases Passed Since the President’s Initial Call in 2013
- Cities and Counties Have Also Taken Steps to Raise Wages
- Businesses – Both Large and Small – Are Taking Action
- President Obama’s Action will Ensure that All Employees of Federal Contractors are Paid at Least $10.10 an HourSupporting Job Skills and Employment Opportunities
Working with Congress, businesses, states and cities and non-profits, the President has taken action to make sure our job-training system is preparing and connecting Americans to the jobs that employers are looking to fill. From an across-the-board review of our job-training system to new grants that support apprenticeships and help connect the long-term unemployed to work, the President and his Administration have used every tool available to train Americans with the skills they need, and connect them with businesses that are looking for skilled workers.
- Reforming Our Job-Training System to Make It Demand Driven
- Passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
- Getting Long-Term Unemployed Americans Back to Work: President Obama issued a three-part call to action – to employers, to communities across the country, and to federal agencies – to help Americans who are out of work, including the long-term unemployed, find jobs or get the skills they need so they can succeed in the labor force. Since that call to action, long-term unemployment has declined by 1.1 million and progress has been made on all three fronts, including:
- $170 million in grants awarded in October to programs in 20 states and Puerto Rico to partnerships between non-profits, local government, and employers to train and match long-term unemployed job seekers for in-demand jobs.
- A new set of best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed signed by over 200 businesses – including 80 of the nation’s largest companies – to ensure that these candidates receive a fair shot during the hiring process.
- Toolkits created by Deloitte Consulting in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and with the input of about 100 White House Best Practice signatories to help more employers implement the best practices.
- Finally, following up on a Presidential Memorandum issued in January, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidance to Federal agencies to ensure that individuals who are unemployed or have faced financial difficulties because of circumstances like job loss receive fair treatment and consideration for employment by Federal agencies.
- $450 Million in Grants to Nearly 270 Community Colleges Partnering with More than 400 Employers Nationally
- Investing in a Competitive Workforce Through Apprenticeships
Providing High-Quality Education to America’s Students
Ensuring that all Americans are prepared for the jobs of the future and strengthening middle-class security, starts with a strong education system. The President has taken a number of steps over the past year to expand access to high-quality early childhood education, connect every student to high-speed Internet, and make college more affordable.
- Committing to Affordable Higher Education
- Expanding Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity
- Protecting Students from Unaffordable Debts at Career College Programs
- Committing to Early Education: Throughout 2013 and 2014, the President challenged states, business leaders, and Congress to help more children gain access to the early education they need to succeed in school and in life. On December 10, 2014, the President convened philanthropists, educators, community leaders and others to announce a collective investment of over $1 billion for early childhood education. Federal commitments of $750 million will support early learning for over 63,000 children while corporate and philanthropic leaders’ independent commitments of $330 million will expand the reach and enhance the quality for thousands more.
- ConnectED to the Future: In June 2013, President Obama visited Mooresville, NC to announce the ConnectED Initiative, which aims to ensure 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband in the classroom by 2017, and called for private sector leaders and the FCC To help connect our students. Since that time, the FCC has taken steps to modernize the E-rate program to support high-speed connectivity for America’s schools and libraries, providing a $2 billion down payment and passing a proposal that provides recourses needed to meet the President’s ConnectED goals. Additionally, private-sector companies have committed more than $2 billion in resources to schools to supplement federal actions and help support cutting-edge technologies across a greater number of schools and homes. On November 19, 2014, The President hosted school leaders and educators to push this effort forward and make all schools “Future Ready”. More than 1,200 superintendents joined the Administrations Future Ready District Pledge to set a vision for digital learning across America. Combined, this pledge will already reach 10 million students across 16,000 schools.
2014 the Year of Action
In his 2014 State of the Union, the President said that 2014 would be a “year of action” to ensure opportunity for all Americans. He’s making good on that promise (despite that Congress did not help, labeling them the ‘Worst Congress ever’.
What does a “year of action” mean, exactly?
The President will continue to work with Congress wherever he can to keep our economy moving forward and creating jobs. But in the meantime, he’s also going to do everything he can on his own to fight for middle-class families every single day.
And he’s been busy. Using his pen and his phone, the President has helped create new manufacturing jobs, expand apprenticeships, and job training, make student loan payments more affordable, support equal pay and workplace flexibility, cut carbon pollution, and rally support across the country while raising the minimum wage for all workers on new federal contracts. And that’s not all.
Here’s an update on the more than 40 actions he’s taken since January to do just that.
Learn more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/year-of-action
List of President Obama’s 2014 Executive Actions to Help Americans – ProPresObama compilation
- 1/3/14 Partnering With Many of America’s Leading CEOs to Help the Long-Term Unemployed
- 1/9/14 Promoting Economic Development in “Promise Zones“
- 1/15/14 Wide Bandgap Semiconductors launched in Raleigh, NC
- 1/16/14 College Opportunity Summit with more than 150 commitments by colleges, universities and organizations
- 1/29/14 Presidential Memorandum directing Treasury to create myRA retirement program
- 1/30/14 President Obama announced a FAFSA Completion Initiative, led by the Department of Education, to increase the percentage of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA)
- 1/31/14 300+ companies signed on to best practices on recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed, along with $150 million committed towards Ready to Work Partnership Grants
- 2/4/14 Annoucement of President’s ConnectED goal of connecting 99% of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years.
- 2/5/14 New USDA regional climate hubs established
- 2/7/14 “Made In Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative
- 2/12/14 Executive Order raising minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts
- 2/18/14 President Obama directed the EPA and Dept. of Transportation to develop and issue new fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles and propose new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on alternative fuels like natural gas — benefiting our planet, our economy, and our energy security.
- 2/19/14 Executive Order directing the timely completion of the International Trade Data System
- 2/25/14 New manufacturing institutes launched Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago and One Institute in Detroit
- 2/27/14 Presidential Memorandum – Creating and Expanding Ladders of Opportunity for Boys and Young Men of Color
- 3/7/14 FAFSA Completion Initiative launched to help students apply for college financial aid
- 3/11/14 President Obama Establishes Point Arena-Stornetta Unit of California Coastal National Monument
- 3/13/14 Presidential Memorandum – Updating and Modernizing Overtime Regulations
- 3/14/14 Gainful employment regulations released to protect many students from unaffordable college loans
- 3/19/14 Climate Data Initiative launched
- 3/20/14 Announcement of 2015 SelectUSA Summit and over $18 billion in investment facilitated by SelectUSA to date
- 3/28/14 Released strategy to reduce methane emissions
- 4/7/14 Award of $100 million in grants to redesign high schools
- 4/8/14 Executive Order – Equal Pay Rules For Federal Contractors
- 4/16/14 President Obama announced two new grant programs to spread models of job-driven training — along with private-sector commitments
- 4/25/14 Laid out plan to strengthen America’s teacher preparation programs
- 5/6/14 Third National Climate Assessment released
- 5/9/14 Commitment by 300 public and private sector organizations to cut energy waste and deploy enough solar energy to power nearly 130,000 homes
- 5/15/14 President Obama Executive Actions that will Create Jobs andCut Carbon Pollution
- 5/21/14 President Obama Designates Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
- 5/22/14 Presidential Memorandum directing DHS and Commerce to take steps to improve the entry process for international arrivals
- 5/27/14 4th White House Science Fair with new steps to help more students excel in STEM education and ConnectED commitments
- 5/28/14 Energy Datapalooza with commitments from utilities and cities to use open data to drive energy efficiency
- 5/29/14 White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit
- 5/30/14 My Brother’s Keeper Federal Task Force issued its 90-day report
- 6/2/14 Proposed the Clean Power Plan to protect the health of our children and put our nation on the path toward a 30 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector by 2030
- 6/4/14 Joined four governors and 77 mayors to call for an end to veterans homelessness by the end of 2015
- 6/9/14 Presidential Memorandum — “Pay As You Earn’ Federal Student Loan Repayments
- 6/12/14 Proposed rule issued to raise minimum wage for workers on new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour
- 6/13/14 Announced steps to strengthen Native American communities through education and economic development
- 6/14/14 Nearly $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition announced, to support innovative local resilience projects
- 6/17/14 President Obama’s Executive Action to Spur Innovation and Entrepreneurship to Revitalize American Manufacturing
- 6/17/14 Actions announced to preserve and protect oceans, including to combat black market fishing
- 6/17/14 New actions by federal agencies, Mayors, and local leaders to invest locally in manufacturing entrepreneurship
- 6/18/14 First-Ever White House Maker Faire, expanding access to tools to launch businesses, learn STEM skills, and lead a grassroots renaissance in American manufacturing
- 6/20/14 Presidential Action:
- 6/23/14 Actions taken to support working families as part of Summit on Working Families, including a Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies to enhance workplace flexibilities
- 7/10/14 President Obama hosts The First-Ever White House Summit on American Apprenticeship that calls on business leaders, community colleges, mayors, governors, and labor leaders to increase the number of U.S. apprenticeships
- 7/11/14 Presidential Initiative of SupplierPay, a new partnership with the private sector to strengthen small businesses by increasing their working capital, so they can grow their businesses and hire more workers.
- 7/21/14 President Obama Executive Order outlawing anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors and federal employees
- 7/30/14 - House GOP voted to sue President Obama for using his executive authority
- 7/31/14 The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order governs new federal procurement contracts valued at more than $500,000, providing information on companies’ compliance with federal labor laws for agencies
- 8/7/14 President Obama signs H.R. 3230 – Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
- 8/26/14 President Obama Executive Actions to Fulfill our Promises to Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families
- 9/25/14 President Obama proclamation designating Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument off-limits to development
- 10/15/14 Organizing colabrations of employers, communities across the country, and to federal agencies to work together in Helping Long-Term Unemployed Americans To Get Back to Work
- 10/16/14 Executive Order: Ordering the Selected Reserve and Certain Individual Ready Reserve Members of the Armed Forces to Active Duty
- 10/17/14 Executive Order: Improving the Security of Consumer Financial Transaction
- 11/12/14 White House hosted a Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity
- 11/17/14 President Obama’s SupplierPay Initiative Expands; 20 Additional Companies Pledge to Strengthen America’s Small Businesses
- 11/21/14 Presidential Memorandum — Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees
- 11/21/14 Presidential Memorandum — Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century
- 12/16/14 Presidential Memorandum — Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition (waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska)
- 12/18/14 Executive Order — Establishment of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – creates reates a Task Force on 21st Century Policing as part of the Administration’s efforts to strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
and on 12/17/14 President Obama Charts a New Course on US – Cuba Relations