Obama’s Second Term Should Focus on Jobs, Black Leaders Insist

Leaders of civil rights groups insist that Obama should focus on jobs.

President Obama’s re-election victory has been hailed by African-American officials and advocacy groups. However, these leaders are equally united on one point: They insist that the president should focus on creating jobs, particularly in Black and Latino communities where unemployment has been distressingly high.

“The president needs to focus on job creation and employment discrimination,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president of the NAACP, in an interview with “He needs to be aggressive on both. And the thing about it is that there is no political risk for him. He’s already been re-elected.”

Indeed, Black unemployment has remained stubbornly high. When the nation’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly in October from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent, the African-American unemployment rate rose to 14.3, from 13.4 percent in September.

The persistent disparity between the national unemployment rate and African-American joblessness has been a source of longstanding criticism toward the president in the Black community.

And many suggest that the president should be far more aggressive in crafting solutions targeted specifically on Black unemployment.

“We’re told that a rising tide lift all boats,” Jealous said. “But as other boats have risen, ours continue to be stuck. It’s still easier for a white worker to get a loan than a Black professional with the same credit. He needs to focus on getting jobs for people and creating opportunities for people of color.”

Similarly, Marc H. Morial, the president of the National Urban League, said that his organization had written a letter to President Obama asking him to focus on job creation in a targeted way to communities of color.

Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Morial said his letter addressed income inequality and jobs. “We believe the president should focus on jobs first, children and education second, community safety and gun violence third,” Morial said. 

He added that the president should next seek “a fair approach to the fiscal problem. And for us, that means you’ve got to come up with revenue enhancements with cuts that are not solely focused on domestic programs.”

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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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