It’s hard to believe that we are already halfway through the year with summer in full swing. If you’re like me, it’s easy to lose track of days between running errands and arranging work and family schedules. But amidst the busyness that summer can bring, Congress is also busy working to promote job creation and a healthy economy.

This past month, the number of those unemployed in the United States increased by 110,000, bringing the total number of unemployed individuals to almost 12 million. However, in South Dakota, we’re doing something right. While the national unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, South Dakota’s continues to be substantially lower at 4.1 percent.

I recently visited with a woman in South Dakota about some of the tough decisions her family is facing this summer – decisions I know a lot of families across South Dakota can relate to. This woman’s husband is facing reduced hours at his work because his employer has to cut back labor costs and her kids are having a hard time finding summer jobs. In a rural state like South Dakota, we are all used to driving long distances to the grocery store, to church and to sports activities. With high gas prices, this woman is also trying to deal with how they’re going to keep gas in the tanks and still put food on the table.

It’s conversations like this, and others I’ve had with people throughout our state, that remind me of how important it is that we have a healthy economy that gives some certainty to American families.

Members of both parties need to work together to put forth real solutions that provide for a secure future. Not only has the House of Representatives passed a responsible budget that prioritizes our nation’s spending and will end deficit spending, but we’ve passed dozens of job-related bills that have only languished in the Senate. The House has also passed legislation that would provide a long-term solution to student loan interest rates, which will provide a market-based approach to establishing interest rates.

We are going to continue to work to ensure that our students get quality educations, that they can pay off their loans after graduation, and can get jobs and continue their pursuit of the American dream.

Americans’ confidence in their government is fading, especially in light of recent scandals and tepid job and economic reports. It’s clear we must work towards expanding opportunities without expanding our government. South Dakotans wake up every morning wanting security for our families, security for our state, and security for our nation, which is something a strong, healthy economy can help provide.

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