AP News reports that President Obama’s presentation of his much awaited jobs speech was a hit with the African American community, claiming that his message and rhetoric indicated that he is indeed about the business of getting Americans back to work, so to speak, and the infrastructure of this nation back on track.
Obama’s speech couldn’t have come at a better time. According to AP, current unemployment rate in the US is 9.1%, but the rate for the Black community has risen to 16.7%, which is the highest since 1984. CBS News states that more than 26 percent of African Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed. Additionally, the unemployment rate among Black men is at 18 percent. Black teens are at a jaw dropping 46 percent. When Obama said “They need help…and they need it now”, he wasn’t lying.
Social media sites such as Twitter are being used as a gauge of public optimism amongst the African American community. Many politicians are on board as well. CA Representative Maxine Waters, who’s gone on record saying that the president must prove that unemployed blacks are as significant to him as swing voters, “wanted him to say something about the intolerable rate of unemployment in the African American community.” However, she holds cautious hope for the future saying, “I do think we have a chance to do something substantive and to get at this terrible unemployment in this country…I think he got it right.”
Tonia Thomas shares a more enthusiastic outlook on the president’s intentions, “Do I think he’s doing everything he can? Yes, of course.” Thomas is a divorced Atlanta mother who was unemployed for more than a year before taking a $30,000 pay cut to work as a hotel clerk. “A lot of what’s going on is being used to exclude people of color in general. I don’t know what he can do.”
AP states that Administration officials said the $450 billion American Jobs Act would extend unemployment benefits and provide support for 1.4 million Black folks who have been unemployed six months or longer. It also would provide summer and subsidized jobs for youth, help boost the paychecks of 20 million black workers through an extension and expansion of the payroll tax, and benefit, in some way, more than 100,000 black-owned small businesses.
Sounds like a plan, and the Obama Administration has definitely got their work cut out for them. We’d like to know what you think of Obama’s ambitious American Jobs Act?