The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
Good morning. This week we received powerful confirmation that America's economy is growing stronger. The Department of Labor reported that America added 308,000 jobs in March, the highest monthly job growth number since the spring of 2000. And since August, we've added over three-quarters of a million new jobs in America. The unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent last June to 5.7 percent last month. Over the last year, the unemployment rate has fallen in 45 of the 50 states. This is good news for American workers, and good news for American families.
Other economic signs are also very good. In the last half of 2003, our economy grew at the fastest rate in nearly 20 years. America has the fastest growing economy in the industrialized world. Inflation is low. And interest rates and mortgage rates are near historic lows. Manufacturing activity is high. Worker productivity is high, which means rising wages for American families. After-tax disposable income is up 10 percent since the end of 2000. And more Americans own their own home than at any time in history. Our economy's momentum is building. People are finding jobs, and the nation's future is bright. America's families and workers have reason to be optimistic.
Tax relief put this economy on the path to growth. Since 2001, we have cut tax rates for everyone who pays income taxes. We've reduced the marriage penalty in our tax code. We raised the child credit to $1,000 per child, and we have reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains.
This tax relief is critical because all workers are keeping more of what they earn, and small businesses, which create most of the new jobs in America, have the resources to expand and hire. As our economy adds more jobs, we will need to make sure all Americans are prepared to take advantage of new opportunity. We must help current workers and future workers learn the skills they need today and in the years to come.
Our economy has increasing demand for workers with advanced skills, such as teachers, health care workers, and environmental engineers. But too many Americans do not have these kinds of skills. So on Monday, I will travel to North Carolina to propose reforms of our federal job training system, to give our workers the help they need. Better job training will mean better jobs for American workers.
We must also make sure our schools are preparing the next generation of workers. We've already taken action to improve our elementary schools with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. This good law is raising standards and hopes for all our children. But we must also address the needs of older students in high schools and colleges.
On Tuesday, I will travel to Arkansas, where I will propose ways to help high school students who are struggling in math and reading. I'll propose reforms that will strengthen vocational programs at our high schools, and I will propose more incentives for college students to take math and science so America can continue to lead the world economy. Over the past three years, our economy has overcome a lot of challenges — from stock market declines, to recession, to terrorist attacks, to corporate scandals, to war. Yet our economy is moving forward, and jobs are being created steadily and increasingly. I'm optimistic about the future because I'm confident in the American worker and the American entrepreneur. And with the right policies in Washington, there are even brighter days ahead for American workers and American families.
Thank you for listening.