Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Stakeholder Conference Call
Thu, 08/20/2020 – 14:41
Thank you to my Co-Chair, Secretary Elaine Chao for joining this call. It is an honor to serve alongside you on the Commission. I extend my thanks as well to Commission Chair Dr. Paul Hsu and Commissioner Prem Parameswaren for being with us today. I am grateful for your leadership on behalf of more than 22 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this country. And I thank you for advising President Trump, Secretary Chao, and myself on how best to serve the AAPI community.
Before I begin, I want to recognize all of the AAPI medical professionals who are on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19. Every day, they take personal risks to save lives and keep our families safe and healthy. The pandemic has brought momentous challenges to all of us, and not the least of those to the AAPI community and your 1.9 million businesses in the United States.
We are fortunate that at the outset of the global health crisis, the President and Congress responded quickly with the CARES Act, making $2.2 trillion in vital funding available to small businesses, workers, and communities. To date, the Small Business Administration has approved $852 billion in CARES Act loans to 6.1 million small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.
And despite what the news media portrays, our economy is making a rebound. Consumer spending increased for the second month in a row by $737.7 billion in June, up 5.6 percent from May. And in July, 1.8 million Americans went back to work, and employment rose for the third straight month. Moreover, unemployment in the Asian American community fell by an additional 1.7 percent.
The resilience of this country’s AAPI community gives me great confidence as we make progress through the Recovery effort. And rest assured, the Commerce Department will continue to deploy its resources on your behalf. In fact, just this month the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau announced Phase Two of the Household Pulse Survey and Small Business Pulse Survey. These important questionnaires, along with our other critical household and economic surveys, inform federal and state response and recovery planning by collecting real-time data on the impact of COVID-19 to individuals, households, and small businesses. Phase Two expands on the initial surveys’ federal assistance questions and asks businesses and households to communicate their anticipated future needs.
And speaking of the Census, I would be remiss if I did not remind you to fill out your 2020 Census survey. It’s safe, easy, and important. And for the first time ever, you can do it online. The results of the 2020 Census determine how almost $700 billion per year of federal resources are allocated, as well as your representation in Congress for the next 10 years. Americans can self‐respond to the Census in 12 non‐English languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Tagalog.
In addition, video and print language guides and glossaries are available in 59 non‐English languages, with 21 of them spoken by AAPI audiences. In an effort to ensure every Asian American and Pacific Islander is counted in the Decennial Census, the Bureau hired 85 partnership staff to work with 6,000 AAPI partner organizations across the country. And in July, the Census Bureau commenced a regional push that led to a resurgence of self-response around the country, especially under the hard-to-count audiences. Responses in areas with large Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Asian populations grew by more than one percentage point during the push. More than 101 million households have responded so far, and I hope I’ve encouraged those of you who haven’t yet to join them by responding online today at 2020 Census dot gov.
I’m also looking forward to celebrating National Minority Enterprise Development Week next month with the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency. MED Week is an opportunity for us to recognize the many accomplishments of our Nation’s minority businesses, and I invite you to participate actively in this year’s virtual events during the week from September 14 through 19.
I look forward to our discussions today on what more can be done to improve the fortunes of AAPI businesses, and how we can work together to build a prosperous future for the community.