“A wide net catches the most fish.” That was 23-year old Jordan McCandless’ approach to finding a job. He claimed job-hunting as a 40-hour-per-week commitment after graduating from Whitworth University in Spokane. And after countless applications and interviews, he still had no luck finding a job.
Jordan described his dreams of one day becoming a U.S. Senator, and was willing to work any sort of job or internship to get his foot in the door. He said, “My main concern is making sure I have enough of an income to pay my bills and student loans.”
I know what it’s like to be in his position. I worked all kinds of jobs — at the McDonald’s drive-thru, on the family farm and as a local hotel housekeeper — just to pay off my student loans. I know what it’s like to be in Jordan’s shoes — to have just graduated from college, eager to make a difference in the community but faced with the reality of having to pay the bills.
Young people all across this country are struggling to find jobs after they graduate from college — and it’s time to give our future leaders a stronger and more robust economy. In fact, when adjusted for the decline in the labor force participation rate, the effective unemployment rate among 18-29 year olds is 16.1 percent.
While the latest national jobs report stated an unemployment rate of 7 percent, it partly is a result of people dropping out of the work force, as well as an increase in part-time jobs. And here in Eastern Washington, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Orielle counties report unemployment rates at or above 9 percent. We can do better than this.
We cannot settle for unemployment rates this high. We need to give people like Jordan more certainty and better opportunities. Washington is the home to many prosperous, innovative and successful businesses — and we need to make sure the economic climate is one in which they can continue to thrive. We need to keep big employers here in Eastern Washington but remain focused on the growth of small businesses, which employ more than 40 percent of workers in Washington. The way we do that is through pro-growth economic solutions that decrease government intervention and unnecessary regulations, so employers are encouraged to expand, not forced to cut back.
The enormous amounts of red tape and regulations coming out of Washington, D.C., are making it nearly impossible for our employers to thrive and expand. I have voted for several bills to cut the red tape and stimulate the economy for local business owners, with the intention of restoring the integrity of the hardworking businessmen and businesswomen in America. Every time legislation comes for a vote, I ask myself, “How will this legislation create more jobs at home?”
I recently supported a set of energy bills that enhance energy security while creating jobs throughout the energy industry in Washington. It’s just one example of the 150 jobs-related bills I have voted for and have passed the House this year.
This focus on creating and maintaining jobs, as well as the recent budget agreement between Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, D-Wisc., are steps in the right direction. Getting Eastern Washington back to work is my first priority.
I am confident we will continue to expand opportunities for people like Jordan McCandless, as well as those attempting to re-enter the work force. I want people to be encouraged to be educated and competitive — and that will take compromise from both sides of the aisle regarding federal regulations, tax reform and a balanced budget.
As we move forward, I am confident we can turn our challenges into opportunities. Opportunities to give people greater financial security, get Americans back to work and make sure more people receive paychecks so they can pay their bills and support their families.
We will get those like Jordan McCandless back to work by reducing regulations, promoting economic certainty and championing bipartisan compromise. And I am confident we can do it.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents Washington’s 5th Congressional District.