The NAACP, citing the dismal job picture – particularly among African Americans – wants President Obama to step up his game.
While the entire nation is suffering from the double-digit unemployment – the overall jobless rate is now at about 10 percent – an astonishing 15 percent of Blacks are out of work, according to federal labor statistics. That reality, says the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, means that Obama must do more to create jobs.
Several other labor and civil rights groups, including the AFL-CIO and the Hispanic advocacy group National Council of La Raza, are joining forces to press Obama on the issue. They argue that the president’s $787 billion stimulus program has been too timid in its approach to minority unemployment.
The want to see more money spent on schools and roads, funding to help state and local governments stymie the steady hemorrhage of jobs and a government jobs program aimed at “distressed communities facing severe unemployment,” The New York Times reports.
Hilary O. Shelton, the NAACP’s senior vice president for advocacy and policy, told the Times that “it’s time for us to really stoke this issue up. 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.”
Black leaders say it is imperative that they prod the president, noting that the unemployment rate for Blacks has jumped to 15.7 percent, from 8.9 percent when the recession started 23 months ago, the Times reports. That compares with 13.1 percent for Hispanics and 9.5 percent for Whites, it says.
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, according to the Times.
“Make no mistake, for us this is the civil rights issue of the moment,” Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference, told the Times. “Unless we resolve the national job crisis, it will make it hard to address all of our other priorities.”