Labor Secretary meets with companies to boost job quality as record number of Americans quit

Walsh met with a handful of companies from different sectors to highlight how they are creating jobs and retaining their workforce through investments in training, higher wages, benefits and flexibility, according to the department. work.

Friday’s panel included representatives from the American Sustainable Business Network, global shipping company UPS and retailer Eileen Fisher, as well as employee-owned energy company Sustainergy and BA Auto Care – a family business in the center of the Atlantic.

The panel launched the private sector-focused work of the Biden administration’s “Good Jobs Initiative,” which is led by the Labor Department.

Speaking about the initiative in his opening remarks, Walsh compared his work to the work of other landmark programs, like the New Deal, Social Security and Unemployment Insurance.

“This is an important conversation. Our workforce and our economy have certainly experienced historic disruption over the past two years due to the pandemic. Workers and businesses are rebuilding and reassessing themselves,” said Walsh, later adding, “We’re seeing a historic recovery and creating an economy in record numbers for people who have moved out of every city in America, urban, rural and suburban. People are coming back to work. People are looking for new opportunities. It forces people to reassess exactly where they were in their lives and what opportunities are in store for them in the future.”

The initiative was launched earlier this year to improve job quality and access to employment, by establishing a general framework across the federal government to inform workers of their rights, including their right to bargain collectively, engage employers in improving jobs to retain workers, and deploy federal agencies. to support the project.

Walsh said in an earlier statement to CNN that the initiative’s work “speaks directly to what workers are telling us – that improving job quality is an economic imperative.”

“By engaging directly with companies across all industries, we’re elevating best practices for recruiting and retaining workers in today’s job market. Work models in America are changing, and the Department of Labor is here to support workers and businesses through these changes,” he added.

Friday’s event came after a strong jobs report in March showed people pulling back to join the labor market and workers leaving jobs for opportunities that better meet their needs.
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released last week showed that with 11.5 million job openings in March (the highest level since the data series began in December 2000), a a record 4.5 million workers also left their jobs.

The number of quits increased the most in the professional and business services sector, as well as in the construction sector. But despite the record number of job departures, hiring still exceeded departures in all sectors. And experts largely contribute employee departures to the potential for better opportunities.

“These companies are talking about how their business models are centered around job quality and supporting workers and their communities and how they’ve succeeded because of that,” a Labor official told CNN ahead of Friday’s event. , highlighting how the panel meets “at a time when we are in tune with our labor market,” where employers may find they need to adopt these practices to stay competitive.

The Labor Department is also planning another Good Jobs Initiative-related meeting later this summer to bring together industry, as well as state, local and nonprofit organizations to discuss how to build partnerships to support jobs. , the official said.

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In addition to partnerships with the private sector and public education efforts to inform workers of their rights, the official said much of the initiative’s work has focused on implementing the law. bipartisan on infrastructure, providing advice to federal agencies on the jobs created by new infrastructure investments.

“We have trillions of dollars that we are investing and we need to be more strategic about how those investments support our goal of good jobs,” the official said. “We want wages that support families. We want people to feel empowered and respected at work. And we want fair access to those jobs.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled retailer Eileen Fisher’s name.

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