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Private Sector Initiative Program Remarks at a White House Meeting on the Employment Program.

May 23, 1978

I'll just be with you here for a few minutes, and then I'll be back with you again for supper.

This afternoon I've been having budget hearings for fiscal year 1980, and I've also been getting good news from some of the business leaders about their commitment to our effort to hold down the inflation rate.

We've had remarkable success in the last 16 months in dealing with the very severe problem that we faced at the beginning of last year on massive unemployment in our country. It was sapping away the economic strength of our Nation and, I think, was a very depressing thing for all the American people. The unemployment rate was almost 8 percent. And with the help of the private sector of our country in particular, business and labor, with the cooperation between the White House and the Congress, we initiated joint programs which have had remarkably successful achievements.

In the last 16 months we've seen a net increase of 5 1/2 million jobs, an almost unprecedented achievement. And I think it's kind of revitalized the country's attitude toward the future.

Of course, we still have economic problems, as you well know. One is the unanticipated increase in the inflation this year, which we are trying to address as enthusiastically as we can and with the same kind of partnership that we established and which was so successful in dealing with unemployment.

And the other thing that we are working on today and tonight with you is to deal with those who have not benefited from the reduction in the unemployment rate. We still have 6 percent of the American people who don't know that we've made progress with unemployment, because they still are unemployed. And quite often they are the ones that are the most difficult to employ and to keep on a job permanently.

Part of the problem is, I would say, inadvertent discrimination. We hire young people, women, minority groups last. And when economic necessities fall on us, or when we make a routine change, they are the first ones that are discharged from their jobs.

Quite often they are the ones who need a job most because they don't have mobility and they are often illiterate and they are not part of the social structure where they can be adequately supported from their neighbors. And they don't know the opportunities that do exist just in a different part of town or over the hill in a different community where a much more qualified person could go and find a job.

We are here tonight to begin a new partnership between government and the private sector, to ease this particular difficult problem that's known as structural employment. We urgently need training and job opportunities for the large number of unskilled men and women who have been left jobless in these times of relatively high employment in our country. And where we have the greatest need for jobs is in the private sector, jobs that can lead to useful careers for people that sometimes don't even know the meaning of the word "career." And I'm asking, with every anticipation of success, that business and labor join me in this effort. This will involve unprecedented cooperation at all levels of government—the local, State, and the Federal levels of government-private business, labor, as we establish Private Industry Councils to develop local programs.

I'm happy to note that this request to establish these councils has already been approved by the full committees in the House and Senate as part of the CETA reauthorization bill.

We've also asked Congress for $400 million for fiscal year 1979, beginning October 1 of this year, to fund training programs in the private sector. As the councils, that will be established with your help, and the local CETA officials work together, along with the targeted tax credit that we've sent to Congress, the Private Industry Councils will be the tools that we need for a strong and effective attack on this persistent problem.

Within the executive branch of Government, I have asked the Vice President to chair a high-level task force to provide continuing focus and coordination for a national effort to reduce youth unemployment. This is one of the rare times that I've asked the Vice President to take a specific assignment of this kind. Ordinarily he helps me with more general subjects and is kind of an assistant President. But in this particular case, I believe that the problems of youth unemployment are bad enough to ask him to take on this special assignment.

This task force which he heads will include the Secretaries of each of the major Federal agencies with direct program responsibilities: Ray Marshall, Secretary of Labor; Joe Califano, Secretary of HEW; Juanita Kreps, who is the Secretary of Commerce; Mike Blumenthal, Secretary of the Treasury; and of course, Pat Harris, who is Secretary of HUD. Four of those Cabinet Secretaries are behind me now .on the stage, and they will be working very closely with you. Joe Califano and Mike Blumenthal couldn't be here yet. They may be here later this afternoon.

And in the private sector, I've asked the National Alliance of Businessmen to provide leadership within the business community and technical assistance at the local level.

This new partnership in employment policy exemplifies our entire urban program, government and the private sector working together for the common good. But the progress will only be as successful as efforts at the local level make it. We can't manage this program effectively from Washington.

I pledge the wholehearted support of my entire administration in reaching the continuing and often moving goal of putting America back to work. And it's with a great deal of assurance that I as President put my confidence in you and understand that a major portion of the success of this effort will depend on the degree of enthusiasm that you show for this program.

Nothing that you could do could be more contributive to a better America and, at the same time, your own profits. And the people who look to you for leadership will be gratified. So it's a good partnership. I think we'll all enjoy the challenge, and I have no doubt that we'll meet that challenge successfully.

Thank you very much. I'll leave now and let you to go to work, and I will join you tonight for the celebration.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House to a group of business, labor, community, and government executives assembled to discuss the program.

Following the meeting, the President hosted a dinner for the participants in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Private Sector Initiative Program Remarks at a White House Meeting on the Employment Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244950

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