In his State of the Urban League Address, NUL President Marc H. Morial observed:
Next month – on Aug. 28 – will be 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, organized in part by our own Whitney M. Young, Jr., and challenged this nation to live up to the founding ideals that were conceived in Philadelphia and engraved in that Liberty Bell.
The events, both good and bad, of 1963, awakened the conscience of this nation and sped up the wheels of progress. I mention these events, not to elicit tears or sadness, but to remind you of both the sacrifices and the progress that have been made over the past 50 years. These events directly led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Thank God, things ain’t what they used to be. As Morial noted:
Fifty years ago, 75% of black adults had not completed high school. Currently, 85% of black adults have a high school education. At the college level, there are now 3.5 times more blacks enrolled, and five times as many blacks hold a college degree.
As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Urban League and The Memorial Foundation will convene Drum Majors for Justice Summit: Redeem the Dream “to celebrate, renew our commitment, and equip young leaders to be drum majors into the future.”
A new report by the Brookings Institution found that STEM is, well, everywhere. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.
Some key findings:
Workers in STEM fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. And it’s not just jobs in the innovation economy. As of 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs require a high level of knowledge in any one STEM field. The “hidden” STEM economy represents 20 percent of all jobs.
Half of all STEM jobs are available to workers without a four-year college degree, and these jobs pay $53,000 on average.
Half of all STEM jobs are in manufacturing, health care, or construction industries.
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations constitute 12 percent of all STEM jobs, one of the largest occupational categories. Other blue-collar or technical jobs in fields such as construction and production also frequently demand STEM knowledge.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the national unemployment rate was “unchanged” at 8.2 percent. By contrast, the employment situation has changed for African American workers. The black joblessness rate rose to 14.4 percent, up from 13.6 percent in May.
While private payrolls added 80,000 jobs, the Social Security Administration reported 85,000 were added to the disability rolls.
There was a slight dip in black teen unemployment.
The jobs report don't tell the whole story. While private sector added 130,000 jobs in April, state and local governments shed 15,000 employees. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that African Americans and women are hit hardest by downsizing in the public sector:
The disproportionate share of women and African Americans working in state and local government has translated into higher rates of job loss for both groups in these sectors. Between 2007 (before the recession) and 2011, state and local governments shed about 765,000 jobs. Women and African Americans comprised about 70 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of those losses. Conversely, Hispanic employment in state and local public-sector jobs increased during this period (although most of that increase likely occurred in the lowest-paid jobs).
Job losses in the state and local public sectors stand in contrast to the jobs recovery in the private sector. From February 2010 (the month the labor market “bottomed out”) to January 2012, the United States experienced a net increase in total nonfarm employment of more than 3.2 million jobs, while state and local government employment fell by 438,000. Over this period, every major sector of the economy experienced net growth in jobs except the public sector.
I LOL when I read that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's “New Year's resolution is to learn to code.”
The same day Bloomberg tweeted his plan, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest jobs report. And it was no laughing matter. While the overall unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly three years, black joblessness rose from 15.5 percent to 15.8 percent.
Private employers added 1.9 million jobs in 2011. Black workers are disproportionately employed in the public sector which lost 244,000 jobs last year. The writing is on the wall: A secure “good government job” is going the way of six-day mail delivery.
The nonprofit Code for America plans to open a first-of-its-kind “civic accelerator” in San Francisco, a program designed to house, mentor and fund startups focused on using technology to improve government efficiency.
The details are still being worked out, but Code for America will work with the city to identify departments in particular need of new online tools. Code for America will sponsor so-called hackathons this spring and summer to find and fund entrepreneurs building the most promising solutions.
As cities and states rethink how they deliver public services, workers will feel the impact. So if Bloomberg has resolved to learn code in 2012, why not you?