Your first job and American employment

Published 10:59 am Saturday, July 26, 2014

by Randy Forbes

Remember with me back to the first day of your very first job. Perhaps you remember the excited and nervous pit that sat heavy in your stomach as you put on your most confident smile and walked inside. Or maybe you remember taking care to iron your uniform to neat perfection. Or maybe you remember realizing, after making your third pot of office coffee for the day, just how entry-level your position was. No matter what you remember about that first day of your first job, I’m sure you remember it clearly. It’s a part of who you are — it’s a part of your story.

Work is a fundamental part of human character. For many Americans, a job is more than a means to a paycheck. A job is hope for a future that is better than today. It’s dignity. It’s an opportunity to better one’s life and the life of a family.

So when we hear talk of jobs reports and see the rising and falling jobs numbers, it’s really more than just national data. Each statistic and each number represents a fundamental part of that person — their dignity and life’s dreams. When employment is high, families thrive, businesses grow, organizations invest in our communities, and our nation experiences prosperity.

Right now in America, the overall employment outlook is a mixed bag of ups and downs. The bottom line? Job creation isn’t moving at the pace it should be in our nation, and there are real concerns about the long-term health of our nation’s economy.

When it comes to jobs, I live by the following principle: government should be an enabler rather than a barrier to economic growth. This means Washington needs to get out of the way and allow businesses the freedom to work, earn, and achieve so they can create jobs. Truthfully, we hear a lot of talk coming out of Washington to that point. At the end of the day, however, it doesn’t matter if the jobs plan is a roadmap or a blueprint, or whether it has a snazzy headline or a #jobs hashtag. What matters is whether Americans see the differences in their communities, right down to the next door neighbor finding employment after a year-long search, or a niece securing a job before graduation, or a spouse receiving a much-deserved and long-overdue promotion or raise. When will we know the jobs outlook is improving in our nation? When Americans can see it in their own stories.

As we work toward that goal, leaders in Washington need to do everything we can to pave the way for economic growth and job creation. The opportunities come up regularly, and the solutions are often very practical. We just need to grab hold of them and start enabling growth.

I have published on my website policies that I champion to revive the American economy and bring more jobs to Americans — policies like repealing unnecessary and burdensome regulations to get government off the backs of businesses, overhauling our tax system to one that is simple and fair, and reinvigorating American manufacturing, to name a few.

For example, one of the tangible ways we can achieve economic growth and help create jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia right now is by addressing misguided regulatory barriers that are blocking economic development initiatives. In a catch-22 of sorts, economic development sites have been held up for years because the developers of the sites have been unable to find a company willing to commit to a site until it is closer to completion. Yet, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) won’t grant permits when the developer doesn’t have a company committed to the site. This type of red tape is unfair and it unnecessarily stifles economic growth. I’ve cosponsored the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act, which would prevent the ACOE from holding up permits just because a developer lacks a committed company. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will help draw employers and jobs — some to areas that have sustained economic development difficulties for a long period of time.

Another way the government can act as an enabler to growth is to serve as a catalyst between job seekers and employers. In the coming weeks, I’m hosting job fairs in Virginia’s Fourth District to provide information on available employment with area businesses. These fairs are free and open to all constituents who are interested in learning about jobs in the area. In addition to meeting with area businesses, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with experts on resume writing, interviewing, and job searching. The fairs will be held in Chesapeake on July 28 and in Chesterfield on August 8. More information can be found on my website

When America is working, we are prosperous in more ways than one. Let’s work on moving the jobs numbers up – not for national statistics, but for individual purposes.

RANDY FORBES represents Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. For contact information, see