The unemployment rate for African Americans is set to soar to a 25-year high of 17.2 percent by the third quarter of this year, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. The rate for Latinos is also expected to hit a record high of 13.9 percent this year.
One reason that the racial disparities are so high is that two of the sectors that traditionally employed high numbers of Blacks and Hispanics, construction and manufacturing, have been hit the hardest in the recession.
Members of the Congressional Black Congress are calling on Congress to create training programs and jobs in low-income communities with the highest unemployment rates. Some civil rights groups are advocating for Congress to pass a job bill that includes three key elements: direct job creation, assistance for struggling families and aid to states and localities.
In an op-ed published today in Politico, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, and John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, called on the federal government to address racial disparities in employment as part of a commitment to cut poverty in half by 2020.
“Poverty reduction across all races is critically important, but we must also be brutally honest about the racial disparities that continue to separate black and Hispanic Americans from white Americans,” they said. “Such disparities demand serious, committed and prompt action, starting with a strategy to create good jobs that provide decent wages, benefits and pathways out of poverty in the hardest-hit communities … A plan to directly create jobs must balance the need to put people to work right away with a long-term strategy to create living-wage jobs for low-income and minority communities.”