As the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, might be viewed as the nation's highest elected official advocating for workers. As the job market continues to struggle, Perez tells Bankrate in a video interview, "Every single day, I wake up thinking about those people who we need to help, who continue to suffer."
He has sharp words about the damage caused by the 16-day partial government shutdown. "We cannot keep governing by one manufactured crisis after another. The impact of the shutdown, the impact of the governance by manufactured crisis has been remarkably bad in so many levels," he says.
Perez says uncertainty associated with the shutdown, combined with the risk of another federal budget stalemate, weighs heavily on employers. "One thing we know for certain is that uncertainty is never a job creation strategy that will succeed, quite the contrary."
Persistent unemployment continues to take a huge toll in the U.S. For the month of September, the Labor Department said that the number of long-term unemployed or those jobless for 27 weeks or more totaled 4.1 million. Perez urges Americans to remain hopeful. He says, "I think opportunities abound for people seeking work."
Perez, born in Buffalo, N.Y., is the son of Dominican immigrants, which for him is a constant reminder that many people need help. Says Perez, "when I see people suffering because they lost their job, I have an acute understanding having grown up in Buffalo of the dignity of work. And I remember my surrogate father, after my dad died, he, too, lost his job and it became a struggle."
Like his boss, President Barack Obama, Perez thinks Congress should pass immigration reform. He says by bringing an estimated 11 million people into the legal workforce, they will "gain more dignity" and Social Security coffers will get "more solvency" because they'll be contributing to the fund.
Do you agree with Secretary Perez? Watch this video for the full interview.
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