04/19/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Recovery Act -- One Year Later

Just weeks after taking office, President Obama put into motion an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create and save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century.

A year ago we were losing over 700,000 jobs a month, banks had stopped lending money and we were on the doorstep of slipping out of a recession and into a deep depression.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is designed to get money into communities to get local economies moving again, and to build the foundation for a more stable economy going forward. It contains tax cuts for middle class families to put more money into family budgets. It funds transportation and infrastructure projects to create jobs. And it provides funds to help those looking to get into the workforce get good jobs with a long and stable future.

That is exactly what America's families need and deserve.

I have traveled across the country, and I have heard the stories of workers and their families. They are not looking for a hand-out; they want a hand-up.

The Recovery Act provided additional support for the Labor Department to provide job training opportunities, and provide support for those who lost their jobs. And I am pleased to say that the Recovery Act is working.

Kevin Kolassa spent 25 years manufacturing gas tanks and steering columns when he lost his job. With his college education partly paid for by the Labor Department, Kolassa became certified and employed as a phlebotomy technician. He plans to someday become a medical lab technologist.

Patrick Madonna took a buyout from his job as an assembler after 12 years at the Ford Motor Company but found it difficult to find full-time work. Through one of our programs, he received job search assistance and was quickly hired as a customer service rep by a local furniture outlet, where he was since promoted to Sales Manager. He said that the program helped him to find a better job.

Sheila Jolley worked for seven years in customer service for a publications distribution firm when her job was outsourced to Canada. Jolley decided to reinvent herself and enrolled in a medical billing and coding computer program paid for by Department of Labor funds. She is now a Debit Card Specialist at a health administration company.

And Cesar Schultz, who attended a YouthBuild program in Phoenix, has turned his life around by obtaining his GED and is learning how to retrofit buildings and install solar panels.

While there's been a lot of rhetoric about the Recovery Act, there is no question it has saved or created millions of jobs.

It's one of the main reasons the economy has gone from shrinking by 6 percent to growing at about 6 percent. And this morning we learned that manufacturing production posted a strong gain.

Both public and private forecasters say the Recovery Act is responsible for about 2 million jobs nationwide. And the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says that number could be as high as 2.4 million.

No matter who you are work is much more than a source of income, it's a source of dignity. Work is about who and what we are.

And getting America back to work is what the Recovery Act is doing.