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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Don Evans
Don Evans
Secretary of Commerce
June 18, 2004

Don Evans
Good to be here. Let's take your questions.

Alex, from Fairbanks writes:
How can the Presidents tax cuts be considered an "economic stimulus package" when most of the cuts take place after 2004? Wouldn't the money have created more jobs if it was used to cut payroll taxes right away instead of income taxes and inheritance taxes 10 years in the future?

Don Evans
Great question Alex! The President’s tax cuts have already been providing economic stimulus and will continue to do so in the long term. This past tax season, there were 105 million individuals and families that paid lower taxes due to the tax cuts.

Due in large part to the tax cuts, after-tax take home pay (disposable income) over the past year has grown 6.3%. When adjusted for inflation, after-tax take home pay grew faster than the 1990s, 1980s, or the 1970s.

The results have been impressive, with 1.4 million new jobs since August and employment growing by over a quarter of a million jobs per month so far this year. You’ll be happy to know the economy is back.

Richard, from Michigan writes:
Why did Vice President Dick Cheney, on 52104, say "real incomes and wages are growing" when, since 2001, income and wages are down 0.6 percent?

Don Evans
Good to hear from you Richard! The Vice President was correct in saying that real incomes and wages are growing.

Since the beginning of 2001, after-tax take home pay has grown 11%. So far this year, it has grown 7.8% at an annual rate.

Also, real wages have been growing – especially the broader measure real hourly compensation that includes employer contributions to employee benefit plans.

In fact, over the past year it has grown 4.6% –over twice as fast as in the 1990s and four times as fast as the 1980s.

JA, from Butte, Montana writes:
The President keeps saying that we are growing our economy. We have lost millions of jobs on his watch. Isn't it ABOUT TIME we gain jobs? We haven't been employed (or severely under-employed) in 3 years.

Don Evans
I am sorry to hear about your current job situation. You, like many other Americans, have been personally impacted by the challenges our economy has faced over the last three years.

When the President took office, the country was headed into a recession. Then, nearly one million jobs were lost in the three months following the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

Corporate scandals continued to slow the recovery and the uncertainties created from fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq also slowed the recovery.

But the President acted decisively to bring us back from recession to recovery. His tax relief package has helped create the strongest economic growth in nearly two decades.

More than a quarter of a million jobs per month have been created so far this year and more than 1.4 million jobs have been added since August, with 9 consecutive months of gains.

The national employment rate stood at 5.6% in May, which is below the peak of 6.3% in June 2003 and below the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. There is still more work to do. We won’t be satisfied until you and everyone else who wants a job has a job.

In addition, the President is committed to helping displaced workers. His 2005 budget proposes more than $20 billion for job training and employment assistance. He is also proposing hundreds of millions of dollars to go toward an initiative that will help prepare workers for the jobs that are in demand now and in the future.

Sheya, from New York writes:
Thank you for taking my question. According to reports - and the president - the Economy is growing at an historical fast pace and job growth is better then predictions, why isnt it portraying in consumer confidence and when can we expect to see the number of people saying the economy is goodexcellent increasing. Also what would your response be to the critics who say that the job growth only produce low income jobs. Thank you

Don Evans
Well, Sheya, by being a guest on "Ask the White House," I am able to help deliver the message that the economy is well on the road to recovery.

Inflation, interest rates and mortgage rates are at near historic lows. Take home pay for American workers is growing. So is business investment. Exports are strong. Small businesses are confident. Retail sales have rebounded.

And in the best measure of confidence, home ownership is at an all time high. Our economy is strong and growing stronger.

As I mentioned earlier, nearly one and a half million jobs have been created since August. And this is broad-based job creation, in virtually every sector, including traditionally high-paying sectors such as information, construction, financial activities, and professional and business services.

Real disposable personal income – the amount of money Americans have in their pocket – has increased 11% since the President took office. And total compensation – wages and benefits – has increased nearly 4% during the last year.

Eric, from Massachusetts writes:
I was laid off from a high-tech position three years ago and have not been able to find comparable work since then. I am concerned that so many tech positions are going offshore to India. I am glad there is finally job growth domestically but feel that many of these are low-paying jobs. What are you doing to address this situation and how would you measure your success in this area?

Don Evans
Well, Eric, the Bush Administration wants to help you find a job. This is the issue that we face in a changing worldwide economy. The question is: How do we prepare American workers to compete in a worldwide economy?

First, we need to ensure that America remains the best place to do business by creating conditions for American companies to compete and outperform the world.

By doing this, we also help attract foreign companies to set up shop in the United States and employ Americans. Currently, 6.4 million Americans work for U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. We also need to commit significant resources to help displaced workers find jobs.

The President’s 2005 budget proposes $23 billion for job training and employment assistance. The President has also proposed more than $500 million for his new Jobs for the 21st Century Initiative to prepare U.S. workers to take advantage of the better skilled, higher paying jobs of the future.

Leslie, from Boston writes:
Our area has lost a huge number of high-paying high-technology jobs. Many well-educated people are unemployed are not finding jobs after many months, and I know people who have been unemployed for more than a year. I have a friend with two Master's degrees who is stocking shelves in a grocery store. I have another friend with a similar educational background who has taken a 50 pay cut--both women. I lost my job six months ago and am upgrading my skills, which are already high. I apply to jobs all the time and get no response. Supposedly there a are a lot of new jobs out there, but I don't see the high-paying jobs in high-technology coming back to our area yet. Do you have data showing what types of jobs are being created?--are they low-paying service sector jobs with no benefits?

Don Evans
As I mentioned to Sheya, the jobs recovery is broad and strengthening. We want to make sure that Americans who want new or better jobs gets them.

The economic trends are headed in the right direction. Most of the jobs created have been in the services sector, which added 176,000 new jobs in May.

Companies are beginning to bet again on American workers. The economic growth we are seeing will help you and your friends create the opportunities to find the jobs you are looking for.

Tom, from Hickory, NC writes:
We have lost over a million mostly manufacturing jobs, a few hundred thousand of which have been replaced by lower-paying service jobs. Are you happy with this result? If not, what are you planning to do about it?

Don Evans
Good question, Tom. We are seeing job growth across the country and in every industry sector. President Bush’s policies are succeeding in creating jobs and expanding the economy.

I’m happy to tell you that things are turning around. 1.4 million new jobs were created since last August with nearly 1 million created in the last 100 days. Overall, employment over the last year was up in 44 of the 50 states and the unemployment rate was down in all regions and in 47 of the 50 states.

The Manpower employment survey out this week finds the employer-hiring outlook continues to be favorable, indicating that recent months of strong job creation should continue into the second half of 2004.

The recovery is being felt in many parts of our manufacturing sector. Things are moving in the right direction. One reliable manufacturing survey, the ISM index, has been above 50 – which indicates expansion – for the last year.

For the last seven months, it has surpassed even that – and been above 60. In fact, the ISM’s employment measure reached its highest rating in over 30 years. Our manufacturers have seen job growth for four consecutive months. That’s pretty good news.

The Bush Administration remains committed to aiding American manufacturing workers. Earlier this week I appointed eleven U.S. business leaders to the Bush Administration’s Manufacturing Council to advocate, coordinate and implement policies that will help U.S. manufacturers grow jobs.

Bethany, from Atlanta writes:
In recent years, there seems to be a growing number of college graduates that are pursuing masters degrees and PhDs in order to delay entering the labor market. Do you anticipate that this trend will continue, and how do you think that this will effect the employment opportunities available to those completing both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the next half decade.

Don Evans
Thanks for the question, Bethany! According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than 3.2 million students were enrolled in graduate or professional school in 2002. This is good news.

With education, workers can be more productive. And when these students enter the workforce, they’ll enter into an economy that is strong and becoming stronger.

Today, we employ more Americans than ever before – 138.8 million Americans are employed in this country. President Bush’s economic policies are working. Factories are busier, families are earning more, homeownership continues to rise, and people are finding work.

DM, from Texas writes:
Job creation has jumped by surprising rates in the last three months. Of these thousands of jobs, what detail exists to suggest what kind of jobs these are? Where do they center geographically? Are they full-time jobs, or are they temporary or contractual jobs. What is the average wage or--if applicable--salary? Most imporant, what percentage of these jobs represent government employment or civil service positions?

Don Evans
Excellent question! As you say, the last several months have seen a welcome explosion of job creation. What’s been so impressive is not only the number of jobs that are being created, but the quality of those jobs.

We are seeing new jobs in every industry sector, including new jobs in high paying industries such as construction, education and professional services.

What’s more, job creation is being felt across the country as job growth has accelerated over the past year in 44 out of the 50 states and unemployment rates have fallen in 45 of the 50 states as well.

You also mentioned government payrolls. The President and his team are proud to be limiting the size of government and doing all we can to unleash the power of the private sector. Job growth from the August 2003 low, has occurred in private non-farm industry. Government payrolls have actually declined by 33,000.

Don Evans
Thank you for your questions. Join Treasury Secretary John Snow at 2pm today to talk more about the economy on "Ask the White House."