WASHINGTON: US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has said that there is a need to build back the economy better so that it lifts up everyone as the world's largest economy has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, Harris said that building back the economy means providing access to capital for small business owners, the economic engines of the neighbourhoods, so that they can create the jobs that are in the communities and help communities thrive.
US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will take the oath of office on January 20.
We must build our economy back better so that it lifts up everyone no matter what you do for a living or where you live, whether it's in a small town, a big city, or anywhere in between, she said in the hometown of Biden.
It means making sure we are equipping workers with the skills they need for the jobs of the future and making sure our entrepreneurs and businesses continue to out innovate and outcompete the rest of the world.
And it means protecting and expanding workers' rights by fighting for a higher minimum wage and paid leave, safe and healthy workplaces, and stronger unions, Harris said.
Dignity of work is one of the fundamental values that she and Biden believe in, Harris said, adding that they both understand that a job is so much more than just a paycheck.
It's about dignity and respect. Joe learned that lesson from his father and I learned it from my mother.
My mother taught me in her words and in her actions that no matter how you earn a living, whether you're a caregiver or a truck driver or a grocery store clerk or a small business owner, every job has inherent value and worth, and every worker everywhere has a right to earn a living wage, work in safe and healthy conditions and pursue a better life for themselves and their family, Harris said.
After her parents divorced, Harris was raised in the US primarily by her Hindu single mother Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist from Chennai.
Right now, the dignity of an honest day's work and the financial stability of a steady income are out of reach for millions of Americans.
The December jobs report makes that very clear, she said.
Food banks are being strained trying to feed people who've had to worry for the first time in their lives about where they can find their next meal.
Essential workers continue to risk their own health and the health of their families for all, she said.
Small business owners from restaurants to barber shops to dry cleaners are hurting. Those who run America's small businesses are not just business leaders, but civic leaders, community leaders. They are the ones who sponsored the Little League team and scholarships for local kids and all kinds of local causes and activities. They are the ones who are role models in their communities. And we've got to do right by them.
So, first and foremost as the president elect has said, we will provide more immediate relief.
We must for working families and businesses now.
And even as we address our immediate crises, even as we work to contain this pandemic and open our economy responsibly, we must also do what President-elect Biden and I have pledged to do, she said.
Harris said that she and Biden share a vision of America where opportunity is within the reach for all the people, where everyone can see a better and a brighter future for themselves and for their children.
With the leadership of these public servants and our entire economic team, we will get to work building that America less than two weeks from today, she added.
The US, due to the coronavirus pandemic, experienced an unprecedented unemployment rate as millions of Americans lost their jobs.
The country's unemployment rate for April 2020 was 14.7 per cent, the highest since 1948.
The economy had lost 22.1 million jobs in March and April when most parts of the US were under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.