Washington, DC—Nearly two years into the recession that began in December 2007, national efforts to spur recovery and provide relief to U.S. workers and families must reach more deeply into communities of color, says NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Hispanics and Blacks continue to be unemployed at rates far higher than the nation overall. The September 2009 unemployment rate of 9.8% is slightly higher than it was in August, with Latino unemployment dropping slightly to 12.7% but Black unemployment rising to 15.4%.
Today’s unemployment figures underscore the need to ensure that federal recovery programs effectively reach minorities, a message highlighted in a congressional hearing last week by labor market experts and civil rights organizations. At the hearing, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía emphasized that a full recovery is impossible without strong efforts to help minority workers attain high-quality jobs. Since the beginning of the recession, more than one million Latinos have lost their jobs, and more than 400,000 Latino families are predicted to lose their homes to foreclosure this year alone.
“There are some who say that unemployment reveals nothing about our nation’s economic health. But families who have endured months without a steady income and workers who continue to search tirelessly for jobs know better,” said Murguía. “Latinos want the same opportunity as other Americans to earn a living that allows them to provide for their families. An unemployment rate for minority workers that outstrips the national average should be telling policymakers that we must do more to ensure that all families and workers benefit equitably from our national recovery efforts.”
“Despite some encouraging signs that the economy may be beginning to rebound, unemployment continues to be a serious problem for many Americans,” said Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress. “The economic recovery cannot be completed unless we put the unemployed back to work in good jobs and in a position to help bolster the country’s economic strength.”
“We’ve always been deeply concerned about disparities in the unemployment rate, particularly when it comes to racial and ethnic minority Americans. This most recent reporting indicates, indeed, that an already troubling unemployment rate for African Americans has become even worse. We must work as a nation to make sure that all Americans, even those who find themselves ‘the least of these,’ must be taken into consideration as we move toward a solution,” said Hilary Shelton, Director of NAACP Washington Bureau/Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy.
“The consequences of unemployment on poverty are particularly frightening. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that as unemployment peaks, more than one-half of Black children will live in poverty. However, even prior to the recession, one-third of black children lived in poverty. For a recovery to change these outcomes, it must be not only robust, but also targeted to reduce these persistent inequalities,” said Christian Dorsey, Director of External and Government Affairs at the Economic Policy Institute.
“This month’s unemployment numbers continue to illustrate that minority populations are being hit the hardest in this economic downturn. In order to ensure that these most vulnerable populations experience an economic recovery, we must be able to have the resources necessary to continue to provide key job training and employment services for these populations. The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs and its member organizations stand ready to work with Congress and the president to make sure that the needs of farmworkers and Latino families across the United States are included in federally funded relief efforts,” said David Strauss, Executive Director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs.
Click here to view the full text of Janet Murguía’s testimony on Latinos and federal recovery programs. For more information on NCLR, visit www.nclr.org | http://www.facebook.com/nationalcounciloflaraza | http://www.myspace.com/nclr2008 | http://twitter.com/nclr.