Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Where’s the Jobs Stimulus?


Unemployment has soared above 10 percent, but that figure doesn’t count those forced to work part-time, those who have given up in despair, young people who were never able to get hired. There are now 25 million people unemployed.

For African Americans, it is worse. African Americans are experiencing a silent depression. Unemployment is more than 18 percent; underemployment even higher. And among black teens, unemployment is more than 40 percent.

This is combined with a staggering loss of wealth among what was the emerging African-American middle class — a group devastated by the collapse of the housing bubble. African-Americans were prime targets of mortgage companies peddling misleading mortgages, with low entry rates, hidden fees and exploding interest-rate escalation clauses. Having redlined urban areas for decades, mortgage brokers then targeted them for subprime mortgages. Too many families aspiring to own their own homes assumed that their jobs were secure and that they could always remortgage after their low entry rates expired — and got caught.

Now foreclosures eradicate the value of neighboring homes, even when the homeowners pay their mortgage. Loss of jobs endangers more homes. As prices go down, homes are worth less than their mortgages, so families can’t refinace. And increasingly, young men and women can’t find jobs to help their families in the crunch.

“The untold story is that between unemployment, a significant drop in property values, the wave of foreclosures and a lack of credit, there is a whole generation of African-American wealth that is disappearing,” said Jean Pogge, executive vice president of ShoreBank, a community bank serving minorities in Chicago.

Economists now project that unemployment will continue to rise next year, probably to more than 11 percent. That will mean unemployment rates of more than 50 percent for black teenagers. Worse, many believe the recovery will be a jobless one, with corporate profits, the stock market, and of course, Wall Street recovering years before the jobs come back.

The federal government must act. What we need now are direct employment projects: an urban corps that will employ young people and provide them with work in everything from cleaning parks to refitting buildings; a green corps that will employ people directly in reforesting America and fixing up national parks. Congress needs to expand the money going to infrastructure projects and put construction workers to work in repairing sewers and roads. States and localities should get aid on the condition that they sustain employment.

But more than that, we need a fundamental commitment to rebuild America — and to make certain that the jobs are kept in America. The president should lay out a 10-year program to make America energy independent that includes public investment in the green equivalents of projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and Hoover Dam. This also would include major investments in wind farms and solar energy, the refitting of buildings and modernization of America’s electrical distribution infrastructure. These investments should be combined with buy-America provisions, ensuring those taxpayers’ dollars are spent on putting people to work here. America needs to help lead the new green industrial revolution — but we won’t succeed without a clear policy to ensure that we make things in America again.

In the short term, we should finance this construction and put people to work. We should commit now to pay for it over time, taxing Wall Street with a securities transaction tax that would slow down speculation and generate more than $100 billion a year.

But these are details. What is needed is commitment and energy. Nothing is more devastating than a long-term depression that crushes hope, squanders skills and leaves men and women in poverty. We need action, experimentation and bold efforts now.

This column originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”