* Banks have $2 trillion in cash to loan out
* Nearly three million job openings left unfilled
By Andrew Stern
CHICAGO, June 29 If U.S. banks loaned out their
$2 trillion cash hoard, if worker training programs were
stepped up and if 3 million job openings were filled, the
economic recovery would be far stronger, a panel assembled by
former President Bill Clinton said on Wednesday.
Clinton opened the meeting of his six-year-old Clinton
Global Initiative with a discussion entitled "Jobs, Jobs,
Jobs," that the organization for the first time is focused
squarely on the United States.
"The banks in America have well over $2 trillion in cash
not committed to loans. Now, there's nowhere near $2 trillion
in loan demand out there but there's some that is unsatisfied,"
Clinton told the gathering of 750 leaders of business,
government and nonprofit organizations.
Clinton opened the two-day conference by announcing several
"commitments" by business and labor groups aimed at financing
Since the former president created the organization in
2005, he said he has secured $63 billion in commitments that
have helped 300 million people globally.
The economy is recovering more slowly from what has been
dubbed the Great Recession than any downturn since World War
Two. Though the recession formally ended in mid-2009, the
economy is being held back by sluggish job growth, weak housing
prices and meager demand for loans.
"The current path of the economy means we will not close
the job gap until 2023," former Clinton presidential aide Laura
Tyson told the gathering, referring to recovering not only jobs
lost in the recession but also creating jobs for the influx of
125,000 new workers a month.
Clinton hailed a program in the U.S. state of Georgia that
helps companies that are reluctant to hire workers.
Georgia trains aspiring workers for six weeks, then pays
them while they "audition" at their jobs, said former state
labor commissioner Michael Thurmond, a member of the panel.
Clinton said filling the estimated 3 million U.S. job
openings would halve the nation's 9.1 percent unemployment
rate. But job openings are being filled at half the pace of
previous recessions, he said.
Mississippi's Republican Governor Haley Barbour, another
panelist, said: "We have to quit stigmatizing skills
Barbour said his state had funded job training programs at
community colleges, rather than spending money on unemployment
Clinton said he had been looking to other countries for
solutions. Germany, he said, was particularly innovative in
subsidizing 20 percent of the pay of workers who would
otherwise be laid off.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)