June 02, 2020

Cortez Masto Calls for Workforce Development in Response to Economic Downturn

Cortez Masto Banking Hearing

Washington, D.C. – In today’s Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the implementation of the CARES Act, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) asked panelists what Nevada and the nation could do in future coronavirus legislation to stimulate workforce development and increase employment.

Senator Cortez Masto prefaced her question with information about Nevada’s experience during the foreclosure crisis: “The last recession devastated us. It took seven years to come out of it. We had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. 219,000 people in the state of Nevada lost their homes. We know the impact. And so to me and the entire delegation in Nevada, our goal is to make sure we are focused on our economy so we can spring that back up that much quicker. So here’s my question: . . . how do we talk about workforce development? . . . [W]hat should we be doing with respect to workforce development, particularly as we look to put together the next package?”

Dr. Heidi Shierholz maintained that workers have the right skills but that overall demand in the economy is too low, so that the most important workforce development strategy is to stimulate the economy through aid to state and local governments, increasing unemployment benefits, and other similar policies.

Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin noted that “We need to get real strategies that give workers skills and allow them to move to more vibrant parts of the economy if the job that they used to have doesn’t come back.”

Finally, Mr. Thomas Quaadman agreed that, “Upskilling the workforce we believe is an important priority coming out of this crisis. The composition of the workforce and the different jobs people are going to be involved in in the coming years is going to be different.”

At the outset of the hearing, Senator Cortez Masto addressed the ongoing protests against police brutality, including in Las Vegas. She noted, “Last night in Las Vegas, there were shootings that left one person dead and a police officer in critical condition. That is unacceptable, it is outrageous. And when I see the president of the United States doing a photo op with a Bible, without healing this country and calming people down, taking away the fear, addressing what we see in this country right now, which is people afraid from a health crisis to an economic crisis to a civil rights crisis—and this President doing nothing but acting like he’s on a red carpet holding a Bible? Let me suggest he open the Bible and learn from its teachings and how we treat one another with respect and we focus on what is necessary in this country right now.”

Full video of the exchange is available here.


Senator Catherine Cortez Masto has introduced legislation to promote education and training for workers in in-demand industries, including expanding all-important registered apprentice programs. The Working On Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act will ensure employees have access to good paying careers in skilled jobs throughout Nevada and the nation.