Monday, January 26, 2009

In Texas and the Rest of U.S. Economic Recovery Must Help the Poor

Texas is now feeling the effects of the economic crisis.

The U.S. lost more than 2.5 million jobs in 2008, Texas on the other hand gained more than 150,000 jobs. However job losses began reflecting the nation's woes later in the year, when the state lost 11,300 jobs in November of last year.

At a job fair in Richardson, Texas, people waited an hour just to park. Lisa Truett, Avon, district sales manager, said, "Employers were overwhelmed with the response. It took us back a little bit. It was so humbling."

I don't share this with you simply to report bad news. But while we stare this challenge in the face, its equally important to remember that those of us who are involved in job training, have to focuse on recession proof (or near recession proof), areas of employment (health care and the collateral areas associated with logistics, and construction). We also have to pay strict attention to the focii of the proposed stimulus package.

It will really be important to get the right mix of tax cuts and also public works programs to be found in low income neighborhoods. This is a program that cannot just emphasis the rescue of the middle class. Low income citizens will suffer far worse than ever if what finally comes out of doesn't help every strata of our society.

Angela Glover-Blackwell of Policy Link, a public policy resource organization, cautions that whatever recovery effort proposed by the new administration, must include help for the poor.

"Foremost, we need to invest in the American people. Job training and retraining programs in community colleges are among the greatest ways to reconfigure the nation's workforce and give low-income people a path to prosperity. A whole new skill-set is required to compete in this modern economy. We have to get the American people ready. Safeguarding the funding for state-level education, health and public safety programs remain funded is also key to ensuring all people are kept safe through this crisis.

"Not much will change in the long-run if this stimulus is put together like every other recent Washington infrastructure and spending bill - laden with heavy on the highways and light on green public transit and other projects that actually help working families. We would still have a deeply inequitable America competing in the 21st Century global economy with a 20th Century infrastructure."

Few doubt there will be economic recovery for our country. How we recover and who recovers, is an important question that we must be intentional in answering. That's true for the entire country and Texas as well.

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