Job Loss a 'Personal Crisis', Obama Reminds

Hazel Trice Edney | 12/29/2008, 12:19 p.m.

President-elect Barack Obama has called on Americans to view the economic crisis from a human standpoint, rather than just another political issue. €The 533,000 jobs lost last month, the worst job loss in 34 years, is more than a dramatic reflection of the growing economic crisis we face. Each of those lost jobs represents a personal crisis for a family somewhere in America,€ Obama said in a statement released last week.
€Our economy has already lost nearly two million jobs during this recession, which is why we need an economic recovery plan that will save or create at least 2.5 million more jobs over two years while we act decisively to maintain the flows of credit on which so many American families and American businesses depend.€

Obama was responding to new job loss reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also reveals gross racial disparities.

The statistics show that African American unemployment is at 11.2 percent, remaining fairly consistent for the past three months; yet still nearly twice the White unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. The 6.1 percent White unemployment rate remained below the national average, which is at 6.7 percent. The Hispanic rate, at 8.6 percent, hovered just above the national average and 2.6 percent lower than African Americans.

Obama has promised Black leaders that he would not forget that African American communities are hit hardest.

€This community, our community, the African American community, during these challenging times, suffers more than most in this country,€ he said in an election-eve phone conference. €Double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, stagnant wages, our kids are more likely to drop out, more likely to be in jail, more likely to die. We€re going to have to do better. And if we continue the momentum we€ve seen across this country over the last several weeks, we can do better.€

As the world awaits his Inauguration on Tues., Jan. 20, many are reaching out to churches and charitable organizations for financial assistance. Some Mega-churches, such as the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church pastored by Bishop Eddie Long in Atlanta, have established programs through which more prosperous members can give money to help those who are hurting financially.

The Detroit-based auto industry, which could cause tens of thousands of more job losses if it fails, has appealed to Congress and the White House for a loan, or a part of the $700 million economic bailout already approved by Congress.

Meanwhile, Obama says getting back to financial health for the nation will take much time and sacrifice.

€There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better,€ he said. However, he has outlined a plan.

€Now is the time to respond with urgent resolve to put people back to work and get our economy moving again. At the same time, this painful crisis also provides us with an opportunity to transform our economy to improve the lives of ordinary people by rebuilding roads and modernizing schools for our children, investing in clean energy solutions to break our dependence on imported oil, and making an early down payment on the long-term reforms that will grow and strengthen our economy for all Americans for years to come.€