Opportunity Marching Forward

Alan Jenkins

The Washington Post reported this week that a coalition of over 150 social justice and public interest groups has come together to call for job creation and investment in opportunity, including for the country’s hardest hit communities. They’ll launch their call in a march on Washington October 2, 2010. It’s the right call at the right time.

With 15 million Americans out of work, and tens of millions more underemployed or living paycheck to paycheck, restoring economic security through job creation has to be America’s top priority. And given that unemployment among African Americans and Latinos is hovering around 15%, there must be attention to ensuring equal opportunity and an economy that works for all of our nation’s communities.

There is broad economic consensus that the Recovery Act and related initiatives have brought us back from the brink of another Great Depression. But the scope of the problem we face requires additional, more focused solutions. Many of those solutions are readily at hand, like the Local Jobs for America Act, which would create 1 million jobs this year, including in communities with the highest levels of joblessness.

The voices in Congress who have halted investment in jobs, as well as in unemployment benefits and support to struggling states, have focused on the deficit. That concern is real, but misplaced. Economists across the ideological spectrum agree that we should prioritize public investment in job creation today, while putting in place a longer-term strategy for debt reduction. Indeed, putting Americans back to work is crucial to the economic growth and revenue we’ll need to close the deficit.

As thousands of Americans prepare to march for jobs and opportunity on October 2nd, they have our national interest, our shared values, and the spirit of American ingenuity and problem solving on their side. Let’s hope the White House and congressional leadership are there with them as well.

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