- US Unemployment Rate Down to Nearly 7-Year Low – Trading Economics
- The unemployment rate for blacks was 12 percent in February 2014, compared with 5.8 percent for whites – National Urban League
- Unemployment rate among Black 18- to- 29-year-olds at 22.1 percent – Generation Opportunity
- The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs – Generation Opportunity
- The US population grew from February 2008 to February 2015 by 16.8 million persons, or a 5.5% increase in total population – Fed Up USA
- A flat birth rate has been offset by an even faster declining death rate, as the baby boom and older generations are living much longer than previous generations – Fed Up USA
As the Obama administration touts the imagined ‘economic recovery’ and champions the lowest official unemployment rate in seven years, take a look at what’s happening just below the surface. The unemployment rate for blacks is more than double the national average, black youth unemployment is over four times as bad as the national rate, young adults are slipping out of the official Labor Participation Rate (and thus, unemployment statistics) in large numbers, and the US added almost 17 million new residents (not from an increase in the birth rate) in the same time period.
Put all of these statistics together, and what do you see? A nation poised to grant ‘amnesty’ to millions of illegal immigrants, while at the same time exacerbating the critical problem of urban unemployment and poverty. And is it any wonder that progressives are pushing so hard for the former, while taking the vote of the latter population for granted?
For too long, conservatives have ceded the urban areas to the progressive horde. For too long, we have allowed progressive policies and politicians to lay waste to entire cities; retrenching to the suburbs and the conservative enclaves, trying to prevent the urban decay from spreading, focusing instead on containment and quarantine. And in that time, few conservative voices have ventured into those urban areas; in turn, few in those communities have been exposed to anything other than liberal talking points and government solutions. Mix progressive political rhetoric with miserably inadequate public schools and an absence of conservative options and choices, and you get Detroit. You get Chicago. You get Washington D.C.
Serious rumblings of discontent are brewing in the inner cities. Whether on issues of employment, education, crime, immigration, or poverty; urban communities are speaking out. But at the same time, we know the Left takes urban communities for granted. President Obama told the Congressional Black Caucus in 2011 ‘Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop Crying. We are gonna press on.’ But press on to what? The current miserable unemployment figures? Towards the influx of cheap labor via executive amnesty, which will make black unemployment even worse? Just last fall, three years after Obama made his statements, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio told the same gathering “Whether it’s immigration or education, whether it’s food stamps or housing, we fight for you every day. So my message to you is to contain your complaining.”
There’s a clear opening for conservatives to achieve several things by turning our focus to poverty in the urban areas. First, conservatives can show a stark contrast with the ‘stop complaining’ dismissal from Democrats, instead committing to listen to the concerns of urban voters and assuring them we AREN’T interested in shutting them up. Second, we can engage them on issues they care about – education and jobs and poverty and opportunity – with solutions designed to give them more choices and options, rather than big government’s one-size-fits-all formula they’ve lived under for years. Third, we can connect the dots between executive amnesty and persistent poverty, demonstrating to the inner city communities that supporting the president on the former will worsen the latter.
How do we do this?
Paul Ryan’s poverty initiative and American Enterprise Institute’s work are great places to start, and learning positive language from The Party of Choice will help break down walls and open conversations in a way conservatives haven’t been able to before. Conservatives are against big government and for reducing government dependency. But as I asked in an earlier piece, what if we focused on using the system to eventually dismantle the system? What if we made these myriad poverty programs work in such a way that they actually operated as intended? What if we flooded the inner cities with serious initiatives for job training and business incentives and education reform, offering hope and solutions instead of ‘Stop your complaining’?
And what if we were to say to the Democrats ‘We’d be happy to discuss job prospects of people who come here from other countries AFTER we’ve worked to help the folks in our inner cities who desperately want to work, people right here who need opportunities now?’
A focus on poverty, reforming the welfare system, and business incentives could prove a useful opening to fighting amnesty as well, if only we seize the opportunity.