ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The U.S. Secretary of Labor says new numbers out Friday show steady economic growth but more needs to be accomplished in the public sector.

Tom Perez tells KMOX News the thousands of “government-type” jobs lost in the past few years have been a hindrance.

“This is self-inflicted and that’s what’s frustrating. We could have an unemployment rate, right now, under seven percent if we had just managed to hold employment flat,” he said.

The national unemployment rate stands at 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. Missouri’s latest figure is 7.1 percent.

Despite the optimism shared by the Labor Department Friday, skeptics say the federal unemployment rate dropped because more and more Americans have simply stopped looking for work.

Perez says a big challenge he faces in his new job is getting American workers trained for the types of jobs companies have available.

“It’s undeniable that the rungs in the ladder of opportunity for too many people are feeling further and further apart,” he added.


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