Since releasing their annual State of Black America report, the National Urban League has launched an all out “War on Unemployment.” Their most recent monthly report for May puts the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent and African-American unemployment at 16.2 percent.
“As an ongoing effort to address the rising rate of unemployment in urban communities, the National Urban League has declared a ‘War on Unemployment.’ In addition to developing the Jobs Rebuild America Plan, we are supporting the Urban Jobs Act of 2011,” said President and CEO Marc Morial. “The Urban Jobs Act will create the Urban Jobs Program and provide desperately needed resources for the National Urban League to offer educational programs, employment and job readiness activities, and support services, in order to reduce the disproportionate incarceration of minority youth and to prepare eligible young adults for entry into the world of work.”
Over the past few months the Urban League has met with government officials to promote their 12-point jobs plan outlined in their annual report. While training and job-readiness has always been their key focus, they have expanded their scope to actual job creation.
In the most recent phase of the Urban League’s jobs initiative, the organization is urging the public to write to members of Congress about the millions of dollars in budget cuts to job training programs. Some House Republicans are now proposing $18.2 billion more in cuts in labor, health and education programs.
“This week we urge members of Congress to protect essential job training programs. With nearly 14 million Americans who remain unemployed, now is not the time to subject our federal job training programs to further devastating cuts,” he said. “Take action by contacting your members of Congress and urging them to instead pursue wise investments in our nation’s workforce development and employment system.”
As an affiliate of the National Urban League, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh is actively working to support the national jobs initiative.
“The National Urban League sets its agenda and all of the affiliates are incorporated into that agenda. I’m very pleased that Marc Morial is focused on jobs, jobs, jobs,” said local President and CEO Esther Bush. “I was at the legislative policy conference and one of our messages was to look at that 12-point jobs plan.”
More specifically, the local Urban League is concentrating a lot of its efforts on Marcellus Shale, a relatively new industry to the area. They are working with government officials and Marcellus Shale outreach representatives to ensure African-Americans are able to take advantage of these employment opportunities.
“Each of the affiliates work together to pull our resources. We’re trying to tie into job opportunities here,” Bush said. “While we’ve worked with some of the elected officials, we’ve talked directly with Marcellus Shale. I’m really excited. Marcellus Shale is most certainly something we’re going to be looking at.”
In reflection of the Urban League’s ongoing commitment to youth employment, Bush is supportive of the National Urban League’s call for the government to expand it’s Summer Youth Employment Program. The national African-American youth unemployment rate has risen to 41.6 percent.
“All of our kids, Black and White need jobs. Certainly we’re trying to get Blacks into higher levels of employment, but all Americans need jobs,” Bush said. “Those summer jobs are how we learned how to hold a job.”
(To stay informed on the Urban League’s “War on Unemployment,” please visit iamempowered.com.)