I'm honored to be here to speak out in favor of the economic recovery plan.
Mr. President, anyone in Minnesota can tell you, when it is 20 below, as it has been the last month, and your battery is dead and you need to get to work, your number-one priority is to get a jump-start right away, and not just stand around talking about it and debating and using the old ideas from the past. You need a jump-start, and that's what this economic recovery plan is about.
Yesterday we learned that the United States economy lost another 598,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate has jumped to 7.6 percent. We lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs just last month, the largest one-month decline in 26 years. And since January 2007, we've lost a staggering 1 million jobs in the construction industry. Industries across the board from retail to transportation to financial services are shedding jobs. In my home state of Minnesota, the unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent last month, the highest it's been in over 20 years.
With each passing day, we get more bad news, rounds of layoffs, dropping consumer confidence, increasing debt. Behind all the statistics and the numbers are real families in Minnesota. They're real families, families that I met across our state, families like the woman who wrote to us saying that she had inherited a little bit of money, that she was going to use it for her daughter's wedding and it all got lost in the stock market. Families like the woman I met in Lichfield, Minnesota, in a little cafe who said she was now working three jobs just to be able to get her kids Christmas presents. Families like the man who wrote us that said that when they put their daughters to bed, he and his wife just go sit at their kitchen table and put their heads in their hands because they don't know how they're going to make ends meet.
On Thursday, the President told us this: The time for talk is over. Time for action is now. If we don't act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. The president has called on us to take immediate action. That's what this economic recovery plan is about, a bipartisan group of senators -- Mr. President, you were involved in that; I was involved in that -- got together and said, we need to get this done. I want to thank Senators Nelson and Collins for their hard work. It’s a not a perfect bill from my perspective, and I don't agree with everything that's in it and everything that came out, but literally we can't afford to wait any longer to get something passed. At the core of this bill is jobs.
This bill is about jobs, jobs, and jobs. It will put Americans to work by rebuilding our roads, highways, and bridges that have been neglected for too long. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that for every $1 billion of highway spending, it creates nearly 48,000 new jobs and generates more than $2 billion in economic activity. We know a little bit, Mr. President, about the need for spending on infrastructure. I live just six blocks from that big bridge that fell that day in the middle of the Mississippi river. It’s a he a bridge that my 13-year-old daughter who's up there in the gallery today, my 13-year-old daughter would drive over with me every day when she'd go to visit her friends and one day that bridge just fell down. 13 people were killed, Mr. President, many more injured, cars in the middle of the river, and it shocked America into realizing about our declining infrastructure.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 25 percent of the nation's 600,000 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. In his 1963 memoir, "mandate for change" President Eisenhower said that more than any single action by the government since the end of the war the one that would change the face of America is this -- transportation. Its impact on the American economy, the jobs it would produce in manufacturing, construction, the rural areas it would open up is beyond calculation. He was right and that's why this economic recovery plan contains significant investment in infrastructure and science. In fact, $114 billion in infrastructure and science.
Another piece of the plan I want to highlight is the emphasis on energy jobs. I just spent the last few months traveling around my state and I can tell you what I've seen. I've seen a little telephone company in Sebeka, Minnesota that decided they needed to add backup power structure because the power was going out for all their customers in the rural areas they serve so they put together a bill pact with wind, small wind, and solar and sold it to the people in their area and they've been selling like hot cakes. The windmills in Pipestone, Minnesota, where it's become so popular that they've opened up a bed & breakfast much like a package deal. You can go and stay overnight, Mr. President, with your wife in this bed & breakfast and look out the window and look at a wind turbine. That's the package.
The point of this is that the people of our state see the value of these new energy jobs, whether it is a little solar panel factory in Starbuck, Minnesota, or a big wind turbine manufacturing factory. They see the value. This energy technology revolution or ET, as we call it, is different than the information technology revolution, IT when I saw the IT revolution, as big as it was and how it changed this country, is that jobs tended to be segmented. Certain areas of the country, they tended to be for people with graduate degrees. The ET revolution will spread across this country, not just graduate-degree jobs but manufacturing jobs, green-helmet jobs, jobs for the people of this country.
As Van Jones has said, who is a guy who has written a book about the green collar economy, when you think about the green economy, don't think about Buck Rogers; think about joe six-pack putting on a green hard hat. Think about Rosie the riveter manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines. This is President Obama's plan -- jobs, jobs, jobs.
Finally this plan contains money, significant money, for broadband and telecommunications infrastructure, $7 billion. You know when Roosevelt said that he was going to put rural electrification in place in 1935 we only had 12 percent of American farms that had electricity. About 15 years later we had 75 percent of farms with electricity. That's what government action can do. Look at broadband. We've gone from fourth in the world to fifteenth in the world. This is not the kind of progress that's going to keep our country moving and get us back on track. Broadband -- $7 billion in this bill. Mr. President, I ask my colleagues to support this important legislation. It's about jobs, jobs, and jobs. It's time to get America moving again. Thank you. I yield the floor.