Archives for June 2011
Former South African President Nelson Mandela met with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. The meeting was hoped for by Mrs. Obama’s office during the planning for the historic trip to South Africa and Botswana. The meeting hinged on Mr. Mandela’s health. Months ago the 92 year old Mandela suffered from an acute respiratory illness.
Mrs. Obama’s African trip is expected to be the only trip the Obama’s will have this year to Sub-Saharan Africa. Meaning, President Obama is not expected to travel there this year. Next Year may also be a challenge for America’s first black president. He is campaigning for re-election.
Currently, First Lady Michelle Obama is in Africa with family: her mom, her two daughters and her brother’s two children.
There is a focus for the Obama trip: youth leadership, education, health and wellness. The White House says the “trip is a continuation of Mrs. Obama’s work to engage young people, especially girls and young women, at home and abroad.”
President Obama and Vice President Biden have seen the U.S. Labor Department report, The Black Labor Force in the Recovery http://www.dol.gov/_Sec/media/reports/blacklaborforce/. The report is released when national black unemployment numbers continue to outpace the overall figures. The Labor Department says the May, 2011 black jobless rate stands at 16.2 percent. In contrast for the same month, the overall numbers are 9.1 percent. Obama Administration Secretary of Labor,
Page one of the study states black workers are more likely to be employed in the public sector than either their white or Hispanic counterparts. Roderick Harrison of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies says, “20 percent of blacks are either employed by the government and or benefit from federal programs.”
In the wake the deficit reductions talks led by the Vice President, the budget ax will directly impact the black community. Solis is urging policy makers that “they need to think twice and they need to be very judicious in terms of where those cuts are because we are hurting the very population that is most at risk and vulnerable.”
On the flip side, the administration sees a ray of hope in the increased number of black school aged kids staying in school longer, which adds to their competitive edge in the jobs market. That positive does not outweigh reality. Solis sees a foreshadowing. “I do see more trouble, because they [blacks] have been the group that has been more affected in this recession and especially because we’ve lost well over close to 500 thousand jobs in local government and education. And that is where we have a high number 19.8 percent of African Americans who work in that [education] sector.”
Meanwhile, critics of the report say, “When comparisons are made between those with similar educational backgrounds racial disparities remain. But the actions taken don’t include working on discrimination and they also seem not to know that blacks work disproportionately in government because of long-standing discrimination in the private sector.” Those same critics are wondering where the jobs programs are now.
Solis says there are targeted approaches by the Obama administration through the Pathways Out of Poverty grant program. The efforts is aimed at low income communities like Flint, Michigan, Baltimore, Maryland, East Harlem, and South Central Los Angeles where unemployment is above 15 percent for people of color.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is studying whether the latest weak job reports are part of a larger pattern or a one-time drop.