The current Depression-era level of unemployment in too many African-American communities is no longer news. But finding effective ways to address the issue is an ongoing problem and frustratingly difficult to solve in part because of the various reasons that have led to such disproportionately high joblessness.
When asked, most people would probably cite the nation’s weakened economic climate as the primary reason for unemployment. But according to Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, for the past several years, an increasing number of American jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector, have gone abroad, as American corporations have sought to find the cheapest labor. Technology and innovation also have played an important role in the loss of jobs because they’ve provided employers with greater efficiency and the need for fewer workers, she explained during the Congressional Black Caucus’ For the People Jobs Commission Wednesday morning.
She also pointed to the growing wealth gap between African-Americans and whites, a lack of any real growth in wages for the working and middle classes and Republican roadblocks to Democrats’ job-creation policies.
Rockeymoore and other panelists said that the nation’s public and private sectors need to do a lot more preparation for a “planned economy” by looking at what employers need and matching training to those opportunities in such areas as health care, which is projecting a major shortage of nurses and other health professionals.
“We actually have a situation in this country where we’re importing employees for certain technical and other jobs and we’re not doing the training of our own people to take those jobs, and that is a missed opportunity,” she said. “We’re also exporting jobs that traditionally people of color rely on, telecom, telemarketing, etc., when we can do more to make sure they stay here in America.”
Rep. Maxine Waters said that the CBC has led the fight for jobs because African-Americans are suffering disproportionately and she fears that Black unemployment could rise as high as 20 percent.
“That is why I will continue to push the president and the Congress to adopt targeted, public policies that put resources where they are most needed. We can create jobs to create today’s needs,” she said. “But we can’t think that we’re going to create jobs by simply cutting taxes. We had that same kind of thinking during the Bush administration. The result was the record loss of eight million jobs in less than two years.”
(Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)