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NewsFlash: New Economic Projections Warn of Steep Increase in Black Unemployment Ahead

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NewsFlash: January 18, 2008

As the Nation Commemorates Martin Luther King Day,
New Economic Projections Warn of Steep Increase in Black Unemployment Ahead

As the nation prepares to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, the Economic Policy Institute warned that a national economic recession will result in disproportionately high unemployment rates for African Americans unless Congress enacts an emergency program to reduce joblessness and restore working people?s purchasing power.

?When white America is in recession, black America is in an economic depression,? declared Algernon Austin, director of EPI?s Race, Ethnicity and the Economy program. ?The black unemployment rate is typically about double the white unemployment rate, and in the last two recessions, it rose faster than the overall unemployment rate. If the national unemployment rate reaches 6.2% by the end of this year, as Goldman Sachs predicts, then unemployment among African Americans may well reach 10.7% or more. If historical patterns hold, the typical black family will lose 6%, or about $2,400, over the course of the next two years from a combination of lost work hours and falling wages. This would be a social catastrophe as well as an economic calamity, with racial inequalities worsening, communities and families facing new stresses and strains, and the gains of recent decades eroding.?

?What black America needs is what all of America needs: a stimulus package that will help average Americans and those with the most insecure jobs,? Austin concluded.

EPI?s President, Lawrence Mishel, presented the think tank?s anti-recession program, ?Strategy for an Economic Rebound,? at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), on January 16. The $140 billion program includes $40 billion in repairs on schools, bridges, highways, and environmental facilities; $30 billion in emergency assistance to state governments to avoid cutbacks in services and jobs and increases in taxes; and $5-10 billion for making jobless benefits available to the long-term unemployed.

For more information, see the new EPI Issue Brief, What a recession means for black America.

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