Archive for "African-American unemployment"

The President Addresses African-American Unemployment?

Published by Pamela Gentry on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst

April 30, 2009 — President Barack Obama was asked more than a dozen questions Wednesday night during his third live news conference marking his 100th andre_showell21day in office.  BET correspondent Andre Showell was called upon by the president and asked the president about the growing concern of high unemployment in the nations Black community.     

Andre Showell, BET Correspondent asked:   As the entire nation tries to climb out of this deep recession, in communities of color, the circumstances are far worse. The black unemployment rate, as you know, is in the double digits. And in New York City, for example, the black unemployment rate for men is near 50 percent.

My question to you tonight is given this unique and desperate circumstance, what specific policies can you point to that will target these communities and what’s the timetable for us to see tangible results?

President Obama responded: Well, keep in mind that every step we’re taking is designed to help all people. But, folks who are most vulnerable are most likely to be helped because they need the most help.

So when we passed the Recovery Act, for example, and we put in place provisions that would extend unemployment insurance or allow you to keep your health insurance even if you’ve lost your job, that probably disproportionately impacted those communities that had lost their jobs. And unfortunately, the African-American community and the Latino community are probably overrepresented in those ranks.

When we put in place additional dollars for community health centers to ensure that people are still getting the help that they need, or we expand health insurance to millions more children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, again, those probably disproportionately impact African-American and Latino families simply because they’re the ones who are most vulnerable. They have got higher rates of uninsured in their communities.

So my general approach is that if the economy is strong, that will lift all boats as long as it is also supported by, for example, strategies around college affordability and job training, tax cuts for working families as opposed to the wealthiest that level the playing field and ensure bottom-up economic growth.

And I’m confident that that will help the African-American community live out the American dream at the same time that it’s helping communities all across the country.

Do you think the president is on the right track? 

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African Americans Hit Hardest By Job Loss

Published by Pamela Gentry on Friday, March 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Anaylst 

March 6, 2009 – African-American workers were hit the hardest by the continued plunge in the labor market where more than 651,000 jobs were lost in the month of February.  This was the largest loss of jobs in one month  in nearly 50 years. 

Since the recession began in December of 2007, 4.4 million jobs have disappeared.   Black folks who have lost their jobs or stopped looking are now part of historic double-digit unemployment statistics.  From January to February the overall population jumped from 7.6 to 8.1 percent: African-American workers soared to 13.4  percent. 

African-Americans aren’t alone; Hispanic unemployment rates also hit double-digits since January and are now at 10.9 percent.

During a conference call Friday, White House Chief of Staff,  Rahm Emanuel said the president’s stimulus plan has placed resources at the state and local levels that will help.  “I think the next stage is to pass the president’s budget,” he added.

It’s not clear how long a measureable turnaround could take, but Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president, echoed the president’s message.  “If the American people want it [change] they need to stay engaged, ” she said. 

Last Saturday President Barack Obama addressed the State of the Black Union symposium [via video-tape] held in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Tavis Smiley, author and television host. Obama told those gathered,  “Tough times for America often mean tougher times for African Americans. This recession has been no exception,” Obama said. “The unemployment rate among Black Americans is a full five points higher than the rate among Americans as a whole. At the same time, we know that government cannot and will not succeed alone. It will take all of us stepping up and doing our part.”

The February unemployment numbers when compared to a year ago show the largest annual jump since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track after World War III. 

With all the gloom and doom in the economy, housing and unemployment, a recent poll conducted for Smiley’s annual symposium found African Americans more optimistic than their White counterparts.

 Fifty-eight percent of Blacks said they expect their household financial situation to improve next year compared to only 30 percent of the general population.

When those polled were asked if their financial situation would worsen, 16 percent of African Americans believed their situation would; 29 percent of the general population anticipated more financial difficulty in 2010. 

Smiley and economic experts attending the conference attribute the optimism by outlook could be related to “pride and confidence” in the first African-American president. 

Emanuel defended the president’s ambitious agenda and noted the stimulus package will create jobs in urban areas where African Americans will benefit and job creation will come through small businesses and minority contracting.

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