Maloney hopes to fix black unemployment

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A new congressional study released last week shows that black Americans across the nation are leading in terms of unemployment, but U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said she has a plan to reverse this trend in a way that benefits both big business and employees.

The congresswoman, who chairs the House Joint Economic Committee, joined U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, in a telephone conference call Friday to discuss the worsening situation. Maloney’s committee found that over the last three years, unemployment among black men has increased from 9 percent to 19 percent.

Unemployment among black women rose from 7.1 percent to 13.1 percent during the same period, according to the study. Lee said the statistics are startling, since white unemployment is 6 percent lower.

“This report is a sober reminder about what we have been communicating and how [the recession] hit some communities more than others,” she said.

Maloney said she has spoken with several experts and business leaders across the country, but could not pinpoint the exact cause of the discrepancy. Even with a bachelor’s degree, blacks face double the unemployment rates of their white counterparts, according to the congresswoman.

“We need to understand why the African-American community is so hard hit,” she said.

Maloney offered a solution to the problem with a bill proposal.

She said Congress should direct unemployment benefit money to corporations that would be used to train employees. With the extra funds, companies would have less of an excuse not to hire more workers of any race and could find a way to improve their efficiency, according to Maloney.

“It really addresses both sides of the equation. The individual gets new skills and a job and the company gets new workers,” she said.

Lee concurred with her fellow House member and said she and other leaders would come up with other ideas to combat minority unemployment.

“The pain in this recession has not been spread evenly,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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