Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League
The National Urban League has been focusing on that question since 1976 and in 2011, the issue is jobs
National Urban League Report
On March 29th the National Urban League (NUL) conducted a national conference call in conjunction with its fight for urban jobs on Capitol Hill with its 2011 Legislative Policy Conference. This year’s summit made the case for targeted action to tackle the persistent unemployment crisis in Black America, as reported by NUL president Marc Morial.
After the conference call, dozens of Urban League affiliate delegations comprised of CEOs, board chairs and the presidents of affiliate Guild and Young Professional auxiliaries joined the group for meetings on Capitol Hill with U.S. senators and representatives.
The focus of the conference call with the Black Press was the great recession that has seen a loss of more than 8 million jobs. Many of those jobs are in declining industries and may never return. According to a recent CNN Money news report, “Home building lost nearly 1 million jobs since the start of 2008, while the auto industry shed 300,000 manufacturing jobs due to plant closings. The finance and real estate sectors lost more than 500,000 jobs,” reported the NUL. Unfortunately, many of those lost jobs are never coming back.
The NUL report went on, “That is why the discussion about bringing jobs back to urban America must focus on ensuring that people in our communities are educated, trained and have access to the jobs of the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2008 and 2018, the industries projected to produce the largest number of new jobs are health care and social assistance, and professional and business services. And nearly half of all new jobs created during those years will require some type of post-secondary education. Because of high dropout rates and low college graduation rates in communities of color, it is projected that 70 percent of prime working age African American adults and 80 percent of Hispanics will lack the requisite education for almost 40 percent of projected new jobs.”
Clearly immediate action is needed to turn this picture around. The NUL’s 12-point Blueprint for Quality Job Creation offers several powerful remedies, including a plan to boost minority participation in emerging Broadband and Green Industries. “We also call on Congress to reform, revise and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act to focus on preparing and retraining workers for 21st century jobs by targeting young adults with less than college education as well as high school dropouts and older workers whose jobs were eliminated by the recession. We must also do more to reverse troubling recent trends in minority high school dropout and college enrollment rates,” implored the NUL president Morial.
The conference also serves as the backdrop to the release of the National Urban League’s landmark annual publication, “The State of Black America,” being held this year at historic Howard University, with a town hall event featuring Howard students, faculty and others, moderated by Jeff Johnson and Roland Martin.
The highlight of this year’s legislative summit and State of Black America report is jobs, jobs, jobs. The great recession is officially over. But, with overall unemployment now at 8.9 percent and 13.7 million people still out of work, the recovery has been painfully slow and has yet to make a significant visit to communities of color.
The Labor Department’s February jobs report shows Black unemployment at 15.3 percent. The rate is 16.2 percent for Black men and 11.6 percent for Hispanics. Clearly, the jobs crisis persists in urban America and an immediate national response is long overdue.
In the past, our nation has declared war on poverty … war on drugs … even war on obesity. “Today, I call on Washington to declare war on unemployment and the first line of defense must be urban America. The truth is, any recovery that fails to bring jobs and prosperity back to urban and communities of color is a recovery in name only,” the NUL president asked.
Any recovery that fails to bring jobs and prosperity back to urban and communities of color is a recovery in name only.
America can only succeed if its cities and the people who live and work in them have access to jobs and are fully prepared to excel and innovate in those jobs. That is the key message of this year’s “State of Black America.”
“Our report takes an honest look at the reality and underlying causes of double-digit joblessness in Black America. But we don’t just point out the problem; we offer a solution with a 12-point blueprint for quality job creation.”
Recognizing that the most powerful lessons often arise from practical experience, “The State of Black America” 2011 also features case studies from Governor Deval Patrick (of Massachusts) and U. S. Representative and CBC chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), as well as highlights from Urban League affliates programs and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Initiative” that illustrate successful unions between policy and practice.
In 2011, the state of Black America is a jobs issue.