Butterfield Pushes for Rural Workforce Training Funds
Washington, D.C. – Congressman G. K. Butterfield supports enacting legislation aimed at jobs creation that includes workforce-training funding for rural communities.
“All communities are suffering in the face of this extraordinarily difficult economy,” Butterfield said. “But this steep economic decline has hit poor, rural communities particularly hard.”
According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, North Carolina’s First Congressional District includes 17 of the state’s 40 most economically distressed counties. Nine of the 23 counties Butterfield represents have poverty rates above 22 percent – more than 50 percent above the statewide poverty rate of 14.6 percent. And, in October, the counties he represents collectively had an unemployment rate of 11.1 percent, and one of the counties suffered with an unemployment rate of 17 percent.
“After years of neglect, the federal government must seize the opportunity to address the need for worker retraining and workforce development – especially in struggling rural areas like eastern North Carolina,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield has written to House Committee on Education and Labor Chair George Miller urging jobs legislation that includes robust funding for rural communities through the workforce development programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $4.8 billion such programs, but the House version of the legislation had included an additional $194 million needed to enhance workforce development.
“As we move forward, the changing economy will increasingly depend on knowledge and training,” Butterfield said. “Rural communities must have the opportunity to move forward or risk falling increasingly behind. Adequate workforce development in our rural communities is the best way to ensure there is a ready, trained and qualified workforce needed to help reverse the economic decline.”
Butterfield said that while unemployment and job losses are still far too high, there are some positive indicators that the economy is growing. He pointed to the growth in the Gross Domestic Product, and said he expect job growth to follow in the coming months.
“As President Obama has said, unfortunately hiring often takes time to catch up to economic growth,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield said he expects any jobs creating bill enacted by Congress would likely also include some of the ideas discussed by leading voices in the public and private sector at the White House’s Forum for Jobs and Economic Growth last week. Some ideas included incentives to encourage energy efficient home improvements, targeted to small business hiring and investment in infrastructure.