President Obama is planning to hold a jobs summit at the White House in December that, according to an article in The New York Times, will bring together “business leaders, small business owners, labor union leaders and others.”
“Millions of Americans, our friends, our neighbors, our family members are desperately searching for jobs,” Mr. Obama said. “This is one of the great challenges that remains in our economy, a challenge that my administration is absolutely determined to meet.”
The jobs forum comes at time when the overall unemployment rate stands at 10.2 percent — with younger workers among the hardest hit during the recession. (See NYT – “Job Losses Mount, Enduring and Deep.”)
And NYT columnist Bob Herbert provides some perspective in his op-ed article, “A Recovery for Some.” Here’s Herbert’s take:
President Obama’s strongest supporters during the presidential campaign were the young, the black and the poor — and they are among those who are being hammered unmercifully in this long and cruel economic downturn that the financial elites are telling us is over.
If the elites are correct, if the Great Recession really is over, then these core supporters of the president are being left far, far behind — as are blue-collar workers of every ethnic and political persuasion. Nobody wants to talk seriously about class in America, but the elites are smiling and perusing their stock portfolios while the checklist of Americans locked in depressionlike circumstances just grows and grows: construction and manufacturing workers, young men without college degrees (especially young black and Hispanic men), teenagers, and those who were already poor when the recession began.
The economic environment for all of these groups is an absolute and utter disaster.
We’ve been hearing that there are six unemployed workers for every job opening in the U.S., but even that terrible figure is deceptive. There are 25 unemployed construction workers for every job opening in their field, and more than a dozen for every opening in the durable goods industries, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.
This was not a normal recession, and we are not on the cusp of anything like a normal recovery. The unemployment rate for black Americans is 15.7 percent. The underemployment rate for blacks in September (the latest month for which figures are available) was a gut-wrenching 23.8 percent and for Hispanics an even worse 25.1 percent. The poverty rate for black children is almost 35 percent.
Clearly there will be plenty of important issues on the table when business leaders and others convene at the White House next month to talk about jobs. And one of the issues has to involve jobs for young adults — beginning with how we help them make the transition into the work place and then continue on a successful career path.
Helping young adults succeed is a key and growing area of Corporate Voices’ workforce readiness work. Publications, research studies and toolkits on a host of other workforce readiness, flexibility, family economic stability, and work and family balance issues are also available on the Corporate Voices Web site.