Unemployment on the rise - so what now?

Authors: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins Last week, new numbers on the economy came out from the federal government. Despite a quarter of growth, the unemployment rate for October reached over 10%, the highest it’s been in 25 years. The numbers were even more dismal for people of color, at 13% unemployment for Latinos and 16% for African-Americans. These statistics tells us one thing: the economy may be growing, but most Americans are not experiencing economic recovery. And some are hurting a lot worse than others. But if you look closely, you can see the green shoots of economic recovery pushing through the gloom. New models for growth are appearing, creating jobs that are good for the economy, for the earth, and for the communities that have suffered most from economic downturn. We are beginning to see the investments of President Obama’s Recovery Act pay off in the form of lasting jobs and real opportunity. We’re seeing good, lasting jobs that get people on a career track, pay livable wages, and are accessible to all communities. We’ve written previously about the inspiring program in Portland, Oregon that will create 10,000 local jobs over 10 years through energy-efficiency improvements to thousands of homes. Community partners and the City of Portland just reached a groundbreaking Community Workforce Agreement that will ensure these jobs are available to local workers and workers from disadvantaged communities. And if you haven’t seen it yet, the story of Tahlia Williams and the Community Environment Center in New York City provides another example of new clean-energy jobs with good wages and benefits. These are the successes we need to build. This is what America’s economy ought to look like. In the midst of gloomy economic numbers, these are the models that can show us the way. The Recovery Act only begins to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth, job creation, and opportunity for all in America. Fortunately, Congress is poised to build on this foundation with climate and energy legislation that can create a healthy, fair, stable clean-energy economy. Please take action now, and let your Senators know that this legislation is essential for America’s economic growth, and for bringing jobs and opportunity to our communities.

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