We briefly mentioned this morning that the White House has thrown its support behind a $600 million jobs bill that’s currently stalled in the Senate. Advocates say the bill could create as many as 300,000 jobs for low income youth of color.
“African-American youth unemployment rates are now estimated to be as high as 42 percent. So we need targeted assistance to help put our young people to work and to teach them an array of valuable jobs skills that they can use throughout life,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif) in a recent interview with The Hill.
Job creation has been one of the Congressional Black Caucus’s top priorities. About a month ago its members launched a jobs campaign that they hoped would directly address the problem of chronic Black unemployment. Members have also previously voiced disappointment with the Obama administration’s lack of race-specific policy proposals.
The Caucus didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments on the matter, but recent numbers show the severity of the situation.
Statistics show that while the national unemployment rate holds steady at 9.7 percent, Black unemployment increased from 15.8 percent in February to 16.5 percent in March. Latino workers didn’t fare any better over the past month: unemployment rose from 12.4 percent to 12.6 percent.
The numbers for young workers are even worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 43 percent of Black teens are unemployed, along with 37 percent of Latino youth. A recent study by Yale researchers found that these recession lows could have long term impacts on the collective earning power of a generation of workers.
If the jobs bill is passed, it will be added to money from last year’s economic stimulus and go directly to cities and non-profits for summer jobs programs.
Lee has previously said that she’s confident the bill will have enough votes to pass, but it’s unclear when that vote will happen.