Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Visits North Dakota, Meets with Local Leaders
Leaders discussed healthcare and the workforce shortage
FARGO, N.D. — Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta made a stop in North Dakota with Senator Kevin Cramer and Governor Doug Burgum to meet with local leaders.
Secretary Acosta highlighted association health plans, which lets small businesses come together to get healthcare coverage as if they are a single employer.
People who are self–employed also qualify, and plans can’t be different because of health factors. The Labor Secretary says association health plans will give people more options at a better price.
“The question is does the Farm Bureau want to start an association health plan? Do the chambers want to start an association health plan? We’re empowering local associations to start them. The choice needs to be theirs,” Acosta said.
Acosta and Cramer also note the problem of many unfilled positions. That includes 30,000 in North Dakota more than 7 million nationwide.
“One of the consequences of a booming economy is a workforce shortage. Yet we have a low workforce participation rate in this country. Somehow we have to get everybody connected, the industry, employers, employees, and training and education,” Cramer said.
They also touched on investments in career and technical education, licensure issues, and workforce reintegration for people coming out of prison.
“Big opportunity for North Dakota in the whole area of career and technical education, we’ve got to do a better job of that,” Burgum said.
Acosta says the department is working well with the president’s budget, which requests $10.9 billion for the Labor Department in 2020, a nearly ten percent decrease from 2019.
“Folks focus on the budget number and don’t ask are we spending the money wisely? The Department of Labor has done quite well on this budget, we’ve got plenty of opportunities to develop skills,” Acosta said.
Acosta also visited with tribal college presidents in Bismarck.