Friday, November 20, 2009

Civil Rights Organizations come together to call for a stronger Federal response to the jobs crisis

With unemployment among blacks at more than 15 percent, and in light of new unemployment data released for October 2009, the NAACP joined with several other groups this week to call on President Obama to do more to create jobs.

The organizations, including the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, the AFL-CIO, the Center for Community Change, the National Council of La Raza, and the Economic Policy Institute, stated that they believe the president’s $787 billion stimulus program has not gone far enough to fight unemployment. In response to the crisis, the groups held a panel discussion this week to raise awareness and suggest potential solutions for policymakers. They also issued a joint statement advocating for strong congressional action to address the crisis, starting with extending unemployment benefits, food stamps, and COBRA to meet the needs of the significant number of unemployed people facing a long road to recovery.

“It’s time for us to really stoke this issue up,” said Hilary O. Shelton; NAACP Senior VP for Advocacy and Policy. “We’re not so much trying to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do, but urging him to move forward on an issue we have agreement on.”

Currently, nearly 16 million Americans are unable to find employment and another nine million are only able to find part-time employment, according to the EPI. And finding jobs is increasingly difficult – there are over six job seekers for each available job opening. The situation is even more difficult for workers of color. The unemployment rate for blacks has jumped to 15.7 percent, from 8.9 percent when the recession started 23 months ago. That compares with 13.1 percent for Hispanics and 9.5 percent for whites. The black unemployment rate has climbed above 20 percent in several states, reaching 23.9 percent in Michigan and 20.4 percent in South Carolina.

"Make no mistake – this is the civil rights issue of the moment," said LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson. "Unless we resolve our national job crisis, all of our other priorities – from reforming health care and fixing our broken immigration system, to stemming home foreclosures and expanding economic opportunity for all Americans – are in real jeopardy."

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