March 05 2010




Mar 5, 2010

Catherine Singley
Sherria Cotton
(202) 785-1670


Washington, DC—February’s unemployment numbers, arriving on the heels of a $15 billion bill passed by the House of Representatives to jumpstart hiring, emphasize the need to reach the hardest-hit neighborhoods and communities with job opportunities, according to NCLR (National Council of La Raza)—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—and the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). The most recent unemployment data came as a reminder of the extreme unemployment among minority workers, with 12.4% of Latinos and 15.8% of Blacks unemployed, compared to 9.7% of the labor force overall. The House bill would provide payroll tax relief through the rest of the year to employers who hire new workers.

“Our communities remain in a state of emergency when it comes to jobs,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “We are pleased that the House has taken an important step by passing legislation to encourage both private and nonprofit employers to hire new workers. Now we look forward to strategies that put people to work in their own communities. Local jobs will lead to local recovery.”

“Seasonal and migrant farmworkers play an essential role in the economic growth of our country, yet they are among the nation’s most vulnerable in the current economic climate,” said David Strauss, Executive Director of AFOP. “If the nation is to continue economic recovery and lower unemployment, it is imperative that Congress pass meaningful legislation that will create and sustain good jobs for everyone, including farmworkers.”

Leading economists also weighed in on the impact of the House bill. “While we are delighted that Congress is focusing on jobs, the $15 billion dollar package is insufficient to reverse the hardship among the unemployed,” said Heather Boushey, Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress. “We clearly need a more robust jobs package that extends federal unemployment and COBRA health benefits to our struggling workforce.”

NCLR joined the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Community Change, and the AFL-CIO to send a letter to Congress outlining several bold proposals to rescue Americans from job loss while ensuring that relief and opportunity are funneled to those hit hardest by the recession. The recommendations include:

Fast-tracking the creation of jobs in the public sector that serve community-level needs. With a focus on distressed neighborhoods, unemployed and underemployed residents should be hired to provide housing counseling, maintain foreclosed properties, and carry out community redevelopment plans. Incentives for hiring, such as a work-sharing tax credit and the use of existing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Contingency Funds, should help create subsidized jobs.
Investing immediately in the infrastructure of schools and public transit. Hiring local residents to upgrade the physical infrastructure of their communities has a triple bottom line. Local unemployment rates decline as people are hired to work on necessary projects that improve children’s educational outcomes and residents’ access to jobs and local services.
Protecting unemployed and other homeowners in distress from foreclosure. Homeowners who have lost their jobs should be automatically approved for a fixed-rate, low-interest loan until their income returns to a level sufficient to allow payment. Flexibility should be granted to homeowners in distress, including “cram down” provisions and the option for homeowners to rent back their recently foreclosed properties.
Click here or visit www.nclr.org/recovery to learn more about NCLR’s work on economic recovery. For more information, visit www.nclr.org | www.facebook.com/nationalcounciloflaraza | www.myspace.com/nclr2008 | http://twitter.com/nclr.