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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 6, 1998
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

                             The Rose Garden

10:15 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Today we received more good news for our workers and our families. Our economy added another 310,000 new jobs last month. Real wages continued to rise. Unemployment fell to 4.6 percent, the lowest level in a quarter century. And more Americans are sharing in the prosperity. Hispanic unemployment, for example, fell to a record low.

The American economy has now added more than 15 million new jobs since I took office. Inflation has remained low and stable. We continue to have the strongest economy in a generation, the lowest unemployment in a quarter century, the lowest inflation in 30 years, the highest homeownership in history. We're on track to have the longest peacetime recovery in the history of our country. These are good times for America.

But how shall we maintain this momentum? We must first press forward with this new economic strategy. It is working. We must do more also to continue to create high-wage jobs. And finally we must make sure that our people have the skills to fill them.

The new economy is increasingly driven by creativity, innovation, and technology, with high-skill jobs growing at nearly three times the rate of other jobs. In the field of information technology, the hunt for employees with high-tech skills is becoming more and more intense. There are hundreds of thousands of vacancies out there in America right now.

The key to expanding opportunity is education and training. Through our new HOPE Scholarships, the lifetime learning credits, education IRAs, expanded Pell Grant scholarships, better student loans, we've opened the door to college for all people of all ages who are willing to work for it.

Recently we learned that our high school seniors lagged behind the rest of the industrial world in math and science. We must do more there. We must work to raise standards, reduce class size, improve teaching, have people taking more challenging courses, and increase accountability.

But we also, to look at the immediate situation, must do more to reform our job training system. For more than three years I have called on Congress to consolidate the tangle of training programs we have today into a G.I. Bill for workers, to create a network of one-stop career centers, to increase accountability, to ensure results, to empower people to gain the skills that are in greatest market demand. Secretary Herman and Secretary Daley, who are here with me today, are working in particular to address the job shortage in the information technology area.

Now, last year, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a bill that would achieve the goals that I have called for for years now. A similar bill has attracted bipartisan support in the Senate. I'm encouraged by reports that the Senate is likely to take up this legislation. In the wake of these employment numbers, with unemployment low and the crying demand for higher skills and still people in some of our inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas unemployed, I ask the Senate to pass this bill and send it to me so that I can sign it into law. The legislation is essential to help more Americans win in today's economy and to keep our recovery going.

Unemployment is low, job growth is strong, our economy is expanding at a healthy pace. We are uniquely poised now to widen the circle of opportunity for the 21st century. Passing the G.I. Bill for America's workers is one of the best ways we can continue to grow.

Thank you, and thank you to the economic team and congratulations to the American people. Thank you very much.

END 10:20 A.M. EST