What Stimulus Means for Latinos and Blacks

By Daisy Hernandez Feb 18, 2009

You didn’t expect good news when you read this headline, right? Good because it’s not pretty. Brace yourself. According to a report released today by the Center for American Progress, the unemployment rate for Black folks was at 12.6 percent in January. That’s the highest level since 1994. Latinos had a 9.7 percent unemployment rate in January—the highest level since 1995. If you’re like me and percentages mean nothing to you, here’s a translation: In January, 4.3 million Blacks and Latinos were jobless. But wait. We have a stimulus package. What will that mean for the 4.3 million Black and Latino folks without jobs? The stimulus package is cut three ways—tax cuts, investments and public aid—according to panelists on a tele-conference this afternoon sponsored by the National Council of La Raza. But the panelists reported that there isn’t money aimed at Black and Latino communities that face what the policy folks call “multiple barriers to employment.” That’s jargon for saying there’s no cash provided for folks who are poor AND don’t speak English AND didn’t get a high school diploma AND may have a criminal record AND a drug problem…all of which makes getting a job hard in the good times and close to impossible during the bad times. “When it comes to jobs and getting workers prepared for employment, more targeted employment programs are going to be needed,” a panelist noted. Right. So what’s the way out? This conference didn’t have much in the way of solutions other than the usual “people of color should be at the table during the planning stages.” But hey, these days, who has a good idea? If you do, send in your comment. As for me, I’m left wondering, why we can’t have stimulus money for what my sister and I call the “Centro de Éxito Total” or the Center for Total Success. This would be a one stop place in the community where you can get all your needs met… training for a new job, GED classes, counseling for the drug use, child care on site, classes on political education, writing workshops to get your opinions out there (guess who thought that last one up?). In the meantime, we’ll be tuning in for second half of this tele-conference next Tuesday so stay posted.