Public-sector jobs in education, law enforcement, fire departments, hospitals and other public-service industries have for decades provided African-Americans an entrée into the middle class. But with federal, state and local governments reining in spending in the wake of a weak economic recovery, those jobs are being threatened by looming budget cuts.
Speaking from the House floor Thursday, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) warned that African-Americans would be disproportionately affected and lose hard-won job security due to government spending cuts.
“And so many African-Americans, for reasons that I do not have to go into, have sought public service as a way of life because of the security that’s involved in it,” he said. “And so when we talk about cutting the budget and cutting the services that are provided, we’re talking about a larger number of minorities that would be losing their jobs as a result of budget cutting.”
The June jobs report was full of gloom and doom for African-Americans, whose unemployment rate hovered at 16.2 percent, double the rate for whites, for two consecutive months. In addition, there has been a steady decline in public-sector jobs due to state and local government efforts to close budget shortfalls.
“All of you know, no matter where you come from, that you see a large number of African-Americans working in these institutions, trying to get educations to move forward,” said Rangel. “Please understand that every time we cut in the budget, we’re cutting someone’s job, and they will join the helpless and unemployed.”
(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)