Recently appointed U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez conceded Wednesday that unemployment levels in Nevada are unusually high, but he said he remains hopeful for the future of Nevada’s economy.
Perez visited two valley employment centers, Workforce Connections’ newly opened One-Stop Career Center and the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.
The Culinary Academy of Las Vegas is a “national model that creates a ladder of opportunity,” Perez said.
Perez said he is confident that resources like the academy and job opportunities in construction and health care can help the economy grow.
Nevada continues to have a higher unemployment rate, 9.5 percent, compared with the United States, which had a 7.4 percent unemployment rate in July. Las Vegas’ jobless rate was 9.7 percent in the month, down from 10.1 percent in June.
The One-Stop Career Center, at 6330 W. Charleston Blvd., opened in late June and provides education and training to people who are unemployed and looking for jobs.
“Many people have a real appetite to get into the job market,” Perez said. “We want to invest skills and proper training programs to get these people back to work.”
One-Stop Career Center Executive Director Ardell Galbreth said more than 100 people visit the center daily.
He said that many jobs are open in renewable energy, tourism and hospitality, and that at least 30 companies are working closely with the center and looking to hire.
To help job seekers, services in Spanish and Tagalog are offered, Galbreth said.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the projected unemployment rate for Hispanics this year is 14.8 percent.
To alleviate this, Perez stressed his desire to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, which he said would let the economy expand and prevent the exploitation of undocumented workers.
“Passing a comprehensive immigration reform will allow (undocumented) people to move out of the underground economy and back into our society,” the labor secretary said. “We need to unleash the entrepreneur spirit of immigrants.”
Although Nevada’s unemployment rate has gradually decreased, the state lost 10,200 jobs in July.
Perez said President Barack Obama has construction plans for roads, bridges and other projects that will help put the middle class back to work.
“Today I saw workers coming together around a shared vision of upward mobility and building solid middle-class jobs,” Perez said. “Unemployment is settling in the right direction.”
Contact Review-Journal writer Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org