Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Bev Perdue spoke at a jobs and economy summit at a downtown Raleigh church Wednesday and listened as residents like John Stewart talked about being unemployed.
"Having a wife with a terminal disease, it's hard to come up with $1,200, $1,300 a month just to purchase a couple prescriptions to ease her pain," said Stewart, who lost his job as a mechanic at Freightliner more than a year ago.
The forum allowed people to discuss ways to lower the state's 11 percent unemployment rate and preserve jobs that are created.
One speaker focused on the use of stimulus dollars.
"For example, weatherization," said Rev. Nelson N. Johnson. "Twenty-four thousand units authorized to be weatherized and, at the rate we're going now, we'll spend the funds. The jobs will not be there and the funds will have to go back."
Johnson, the founder and senior co-pastor at Faith Community Church, was among representatives of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People's Assembly who organized the event.
Perdue said she appreciated the suggestions.
"You can always improve," she said. "Everything we do can be done better and more efficiently. You just gotta get a little experience under your belt. I think the recovery office and weatherization office now knows what they got to do."
Stewart said he has gone back to school to learn new skills.
"However, where do I work after school? What job do I go to," he asked.
The event organizers called on the governor to:
- effectively implement remaining provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including using funds for summer youth employment programs
- support federal policy choices that would extend the recovery act and add additional fund sources and breaks for low-income taxpayers
- responsibly address the state budget shortfall, making the most of federal funds
- maximize the impact of state economic development by setting wage standards and targeting the communities most in need
- enact bold, untapped strategies to strengthen the private job market, including offering tax credits to allow workers to share jobs
- adopt economic reforms that promote shared opportunity and prosperity