[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[March 6, 1998]
[Pages 335-336]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on the National Economy
March 6, 1998

    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 
    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 3 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 
IRA's, 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 
    But we also, to look at the immediate situation, must do more to 
reform our job training system. For more than 3 years, I have called on 
Congress to consolidate the tangle of training programs we have today 
into a ``GI 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 essentially to help more 
Americans win in today's economy and to keep our recovery going.

[[Page 336]]

    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 ``GI 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.

Note: The President spoke at 10:15 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White