In Atlanta Thursday, thousands of unemployed African-Americans stood for hours in sweltering heat for the chance to meet and woo employers at the Congressional Black Caucus sponsored job fair.
The two-day job fair is a part of the CBC’s “For the People” Jobs Initiative, a project that features a series of nationwide town hall meetings and job fairs in an attempt to respond to the dismal state of Black employment with proactive action. In the last two years, the CBC has introduced over 40 job creation bills to address unemployment to the House of Representatives.
"The Congressional Black Caucus decided to take matters into their own hands," said Mahen Gunaratna, a representative for Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson. "They are tired of Republicans' inaction that prevents bills from moving forward. This is a real, tangible opportunity for our constituents."
Ninety employers attended the fair and job seekers were also able to take advantage of free seminars such as resume writing and mortgage modification workshops.
The massive turnout of applicants adds a sobering context to the unemployment figures that have captivated Washington recently. Lines swirled around the campus of Atlanta Technical College where the event was held and authorities say 20 people were treated for heat exhaustion. The two previous job fairs in Detroit and Cleveland also drew impressive crowds.
"It's always worth it when you're unemployed seeking unemployment," said job-seeker NaKeisha Hall. “So, you go and try any avenue that you can."
Unemployment in America is undoubtedly a national problem. The latest figures estimate that 9.1 percent of the country is out of work, with a staggering 15.9 percent of Blacks being unemployed. In Georgia, July marked the 48th consecutive month that the state exceeded the national unemployment rate.
The “For the People” Jobs Initiative will visit Miami on August 22−23 and Los Angeles on August 22−23.