EPI has joined forces with a coalition of national organizations in calling for more action to create jobs. On November 17, EPI hosted the panel discussion,Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis, where the heads of the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, and other groups warned that today’s high unemployment could stunt an entire generation’s lifetime earnings and devastate minority communities.
The coalition, which consists of EPI, the AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change, the NAACP, and the National Council of La Raza, issued an Urgent Call for Action to Stem the U.S. Jobs Crisis, recommending many of the same policy actions that EPI proposed last month in its five-part approach to large-scale job creation. These include additional aid to strapped state governments, public-sector job creation, as well as investments in infrastructure and tax credits to create private-sector jobs. The group also advocates extended emergency unemployment compensation and subsidies for COBRA health insurance into 2010.
Unemployment: The civil rights issue of our time
The Call to Action praised the Obama administration for moving swiftly earlier this year to pass the Recovery Act, which has already created at least 1.1 million jobs. But it stressed that additional help was needed. “The Great Recession is an unfolding social catastrophe,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of theCenter for Community Change. “If we act quickly, a jobs program could put millions of people to work in 2010.”
Much of the discussion at the Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis panel focused on the groups hardest hit by the jobs crisis. Although the nationwide unemployment rate of 10.2% is the highest level seen in 26 years, it is much higher for communities of color: 13.1% for Hispanic workers and 15.7% for black workers.
“Make no mistake. This is the civil rights issue of our time,” Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said at the event. “There can be no equal opportunity without economic justice and a stable job that provides a living wage.” MORE