Black Unemployment Report Shows Why We Needed The People’s Budget

Terrance Heath

Yesterday House Republicans passed a budget with no new funding for job creation. Today a new report on black unemployment shows the urgent need for investment in job creation.

In a new report from the Economic Policy Institute, “Projected Decline in Unemployment in 2015 Won’t Lift Blacks Out of the Recession-carved Crater,” economist Valerie Wilson finds that black unemployment rates remain higher than pre-recession levels in 28 states — even though unemployed rates for whites, Latinos, and Asians have dropped to within 1 percentage point of their pre-recession levels.

Black unemployment levels are projected to drop significantly in only two states — California and Illinois. Nationally, a black unemployment rate of 10.4 percent is projected for the end of 2015. That’s slightly lower than the 11.0 percent rate at the end of 2014, and still more than two percentage points above the 8.6 percent rate before the Great Recession.

These numbers are just the latest to demonstrate the need for the federal government to actively invest in job creation. Last night, House Republicans passed a budget proposal that — as I noted earlier — contains no new funding for job creation.

The People’s Budget, proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, incorporates the kind of investment needed to change unemployment numbers like those in the EPI report. Subtitled “A Raise For America,” the People’s Budget details a plan to create 8.4 million good paying jobs by 2018, including $820 billion to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure — roads, bridges, and energy systems. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a similar amendment to create over 9 million jobs by investing in infrastructure, paid for by closing “huge” corporate tax loopholes.

Both proposals were defeated. The People’s Budget went down to defeat in the House, but won the support of a majority of House Democrats. Sen. Sanders’ amendment was defeated 45 to 52, along strict party lines. In January, a Zogby poll conducted for the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed that 65 percent of Americans identified “fixing infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water, and sewage systems” as a high priority.

Both the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget and Sen. Sanders’ amendment include the kind of investment our economy needs, and that the American public wants. But Republicans in Congress are determined we shall not get it.

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