The economic recovery of 2010, which saw incremental employment increases across the board, came to a sudden and definitive halt sometime around April, according to the National Urban League’s Urban Job Report for June. Earlier this month, the Urban League released key findings of the report and analyzed how the numbers relate to Black and urban America.
According to the report, the economy lost a net 125,000 jobs in June, largely due to a decrease (-225,000) in the number of temporary Census workers while private sector employment increased by a modest 83,000. “We saw positive signs of an uptick from June until around the middle of April when it appeared the wheels just started to come off,” explained Madura Wijewardena, senior research analyst for the National Urban League. “It seems the consensus is that private sector confidence is at a low and when the private sector lacks confidence, spending decreases and hiring slows.”
According to Wijewardena, historically, it takes 10 years of modest growth to make up jobs lost during a long-term recession.
“The manufacturing sector has always lost jobs and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future so we can’t go back. What we need now is a push in sectors such as green jobs. We have to ask what the next areas of growth are and where the jobs are going to come from.”
In March, National Urban League president Marc H. Morial called on the Congress to come together and address the soaring unemployment rate with a broad training and lending strategy. ”These are tough times in America and they require a powerful and immediate response. The government has bailed out Wall Street. It’s time to act swiftly and do something for Main Street, which needs a strong, focused jobs plan.” Morial urged support for a proposed federal legislation package to address unemployment, with a projected cost of $168 billion to be spent over two years, generating jobs in communities facing chronic unemployment.
The plan, backed by the Urban League, focuses on six key areas: direct job creation; expansion of the Small Business Administration’s loan program; the creation of green empowerment zones; expanded hiring of housing counselors nationwide; expanded summer jobs program for youths; and the creation of urban jobs academies. Last week, the House passed H.R. 5618, The Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act.
The bill extends benefits to those who have exhausted their current tier of unemployment payments. The Democrats claim to have the votes to pass the bill in the Senate and send it to President Barack Obama but the recent death of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd (D) has left a cloud of uncertainty over the matter. The house is expected later this week to move procedurally on the Small Business Jobs bill. While it’s not as comprehensive as the package, the bill, pushed by Morial and the Urban League, could create thousands of new jobs for unemployed Americans.
When asked what advice he had for someone entering or reentering the current job market, the Urban League’s Wijewardena said to “look for niches in the service sector”.
“Despite the tough economic times, the medical, IT, and professional service industries are seeing a net growth in jobs. Even with outsourcing in the financial and IT sectors, you are seeing the outsourcing of jobs staying onshore instead of going overseas.”
Among the highlights of the report:
The unemployment rate in June fell to 9.5% as labor force participation declined by 0.3 percentage points.
The black unemployment rate remained level at 15.4% (from 15.5%) as the participation rate fell to 61.9% (from 62.8%).
The unemployment rate for black men increased slightly (from 17.1% to 17.4%), as the rate for black women fell (from 12.4% to 11.8%).
The unemployment rates for whites (8.6% from 8.8%) and Latinos (12.4%).
The rate of underemployment (including the unemployed, marginally attached and those working part-time for economic reasons) was also essentially unchanged at 16.5%. The ranks of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) were unchanged at 6.8 million or 45.5% of all unemployed.
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