Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Department of Labor Good Jobs Event

Feb 22, 2023

Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the Department of Labor Good Jobs Event
Tue, 02/21/2023 – 17:30

Investing in communities and workers


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Office of Public Affairs

Don Graves

Thank you, Deputy Secretary Su, for bringing us together today.

Providing good jobs for ALL workers is an important conversation. We’ve lived through an historic moment. The pandemic changed our daily lives, including the way we work. American workers are seeking new skills and quality jobs, and U.S. employers are transforming how they do business.

Increasing access to the new, high-quality jobs of the future and giving workers the training they need to succeed are essential for expanding and diversifying our country’s workforce.

At the same time, the Biden-Harris Administration has been making once-in-a-generation investments to rebuild our infrastructure, provide high-speed internet to every household, support our domestic semiconductor industry, and combat climate change.

Both the Commerce Department and the entire administration are committed to ensuring that underrepresented workers and businesses can partake in the unprecedented opportunities that these investments are bringing. We’re working to build a more inclusive economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out.

And as a descendant of one of America’s first Black patent-holders, I understand the importance of supporting  workers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses from historically underserved communities. That’s exactly what we’re aiming to do at the Commerce Department.

Over the last year, our team consulted with experts from business, labor, think tanks, the White House, and the Department of Labor on the drivers of job quality.

Together with the Labor Department, we published a set of Good Jobs Principles, which create a framework and shared vision around what constitutes good jobs. Thank you to Secretary Walsh and Deputy Secretary Su for partnering with us on that.

The principles set clear expectations about the jobs that we expect to be created through our historic investments.

The Commerce Department also released a Job Quality Toolkit, to provide strategies for small- and medium-sized employers to improve workers’ experiences, building on the Good Jobs Principles. And we are actively deploying the toolkit to our national small and medium manufacturers through our Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to help them all become employers of choice.

Increasing worker satisfaction and engagement can translate into increased enthusiasm for work, lower absenteeism, higher retention, improved products and services, higher customer satisfaction, and increased revenues.

But our department’s work to advance equity and job quality doesn’t end there.

The Minority Business Development Agency has been hard at work supporting the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned business enterprises and entrepreneurs.

MBDA’s new $93.5 million Capital Readiness Program – the largest of its kind in the history of the Commerce Department – is going help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs launch and scale their businesses. Jumpstarting the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs will spur innovation and help us build a more resilient economy. 

At the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Council on Inclusive Innovation is expanding the scope of the innovation ecosystem to reach communities that have historically been left out.

And last summer, the Economic Development Administration announced the 32 awardees of the $500 million Good Jobs Challenge, which is funded by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The program is expanding access to the workforce and increase labor participation with a focus on job quality and equity.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the Good Jobs Challenge funded a partnership that will provide marginalized communities with pathways into high-quality healthcare jobs. An $11 million award to the Hampton Roads Workforce Council will build talent pipelines for clean energy, resilience and “blue economy” jobs in the Hampton Roads region, home to the one of the largest African American populations in the nation.

I’m proud that the work we’re doing – both at the Commerce Department and across the entire Biden Administration – to improve both job quality and access to good jobs.

I also hope that you’ll continue to engage with our department to let us know about the challenges you’re facing, and how Commerce can better serve the workers you represent.

Together, we’re securing an equitable and prosperous future for all Americans.

Thank you.

Bureaus and Offices

Economic Development Administration


Don Graves

Read the full report from the U.S. Department of Commerce: Read More