Civil rights and progressive organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the AFL-CIO, and the Center for Community Change, have joined the Economic Policy Institute in calling attention to the urgent need to address the current jobs crisis in light of new unemployment data released for October 2009.
The national jobs crisis has become a major barrier to progress in our country. Without job security, families will continue to lose their homes and will stop saving for their own retirement or their children’s education. Job security is also essential because the decisions and sacrifices made by the families hit the hardest today will have lasting repercussions for years to come. For example, young adults who must work to support their families instead of attending school will find themselves disadvantaged when competing for work in the future.
Currently, nearly 16 million Americans are unable to find employment and another nine million are only able to find part-time employment, according to EPI. And finding jobs is increasingly difficult – there are over six job seekers for each available job opening. The situation is even more difficult for workers of color. While the overall unemployment rate was 10.2 percent in October, the rate for Black workers was 15.7 percent and the rate for Hispanic workers was 13.1 percent.
Responding to the crisis, the groups held a panel discussion this week to raise awareness and suggest potential solutions for policymakers. They also issued a joint statement advocating for strong congressional action to address the crisis, starting with extending unemployment benefits, food stamps, and COBRA to meet the needs of the significant number of unemployed people facing a long road to recovery.
“Make no mistake – this is the civil rights issue of the moment,” said LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson. “Unless we resolve our national job crisis, all of our other priorities – from reforming health care and fixing our broken immigration system, to stemming home foreclosures and expanding economic opportunity for all Americans – are in real jeopardy.”