The Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday hosted its second “For the People” jobs fair in Detroit. Like last week’s event in Cleveland, thousands of unemployed people lined up for hours to meet with potential employers. Many arrived during pre-dawn hours and endured the hot weather for a chance to find a job.
"I know what it's like to be unemployed," said Michigan Rep. Hansen Clarke. "During the last recession I was without a job and without hope. This jobs fair is a critical component to getting people in my community back to work."
In addition to offering hundreds of potential job opportunities, Clarke added, the event would help unemployed workers who weren’t quite job ready to hone the resume-building and interview skills needed to make them more attractive to prospective employers.
On Tuesday, President Obama also announced plans to send a jobs package to Capitol Hill in September. CBC chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) applauded the president’s effort, but voiced concern over how far it would go in a divided congress.
“What I think is it is going to be difficult to get anything through Congress as I think most people in the country realize. I’m glad the president is going to present his jobs plan,” Cleaver said in an interview on MSNBC. “The reality is that based on past history, we can’t assume that Congress is going to do anything with it. Members of the CBC have introduced more than 40 bills related to job creation and not one has even been called for a hearing.”
Cleaver cited the fact that a locally elected Detroit official who recently lost her job as an example of how dire the unemployment situation has grown in African-American communities around the nation and to highlight his group’s belief that the administration should have introduced a jobs a long time ago.
“We have hundreds of people still outside standing in the heat hoping for a chance to get in. This is bold testimony to the pain that’s taking place in the U.S., not just with African-Americans, who for sure are hurt, but with vulnerable populations all over this nation,” Cleaver said. “And we owe it to the citizens of this country to do something in Washington. I’m hoping that the emphasis that is now being placed on jobs — it should have started, frankly, two years ago, maybe three years ago — will push the House and the Senate to act.”