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CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS ON JOBS

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
July 8, 2011

TriceEdneyWireService – While attending the Congressional Black Caucus Summit on Jobs a few days ago, I learned there were others like me who wondered what the Congressional Black Caucus was doing on the subject of Jobs. After sitting through two and one half hours of discussion on that subject, I saw how feverishly Members of CBC have been working to resolve the jobs crisis.

I’m an avid reader, but even I was shocked to see how many bills CBC Members have sponsored in an effort to put people back to work and to get others job ready through training programs. In the 112th Congress alone, I saw more than 40 bills that have been introduced by CBC Members; however, none of them have had a hearing in the Republican led House. Unfortunately, there is not a single Black person in the Senate.

Can we blame CBC for our not knowing about their efforts? Absolutely not! We see many Members of Congress on mainstream media daily talking about everything but jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that even though the nation’s unemployment rate dropped below 9 percent, Black unemployment has remained in the area of 16 percent. The story is bleaker for 16 to 24-year-old Black men. Their rate has reached Great Depression proportions with a figure of 34.5 percent, more than 3 times the rate for the general population.

Many Black teens want and need to work, but their jobless figure is the highest of any group. Reports indicate it’s as much as 45.4 percent! It is even higher in some places. What kind of example is this to set for young people who are trying to be responsible young adults? What does this tell them about their future prospects?

While unemployment statistics for Black women are rarely mentioned, we cannot overlook the devastating effects on Black women—especially for women who are heads of households. That must be the subject of another article so that Black women are not forgotten in this joblessness crisis—as we often are. Several women Members of CBC have indicated an interest in working with the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. on that subject—and it certainly does need to be addressed.

What type of emergency will it take to get the full Congress to treat joblessness as a national emergency? That’s what it is. With all the urgent things in the world, I know that President Barack Obama is concerned about jobs for all Americans, and he’s been quite vocal in visiting and highlighting companies that are hiring. I know he would agree that a refocusing of national priorities is necessary. CBC is correct in taking affirmative steps to move in that direction. CBC has planned a tour of 4 cities (Cleveland, Miami, Los Angeles and Detroit) to focus on jobs. We must act to get the full Congress to treat jobs as a national emergency.

Black people want to work, but cannot find jobs. Some may be high school drop outs, but some are college educated and are facing shockingly high unemployment. Many companies are reporting record profits with no reason not to hire. Such inaction is one of the worst cases of corporate irresponsibility.

A Princeton study found Black applicants without criminal records are no more likely to get a job than white applicants just out of prison! One report says Blacks will have double digit unemployment until 2014. If we don’t act, this may go beyond 2014. This call by CBC to take action on joblessness requires immediate attention from all of us.

(Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women. She’s also Chair of the Board of the Black Leadership Forum in Washington, DC. To reach her, call 202/678-6788; e-mail dr.efayew@gmail.com or see website at www.nationalcongressbw.org.)

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