Following the release of the National Urban League’ s 38th edition of the State of Black America – One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild America at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last Thursday, the Urban League of Portland is announcing plans to address the widening Black jobs gap in Oregon.
The National Urban League’s 2014 State of Black America report, which looks at income and wealth gaps and the urgency of the un- and under-employment crisis, conveys the principle of the widening inequality between the few who are reaping the rewards of economic recovery and the majority who are still reeling from the aftershocks of the Great Recession. The Urban League of Portland’s 2014 State of Black Oregon report is due for release in the fall of 2014 and will offer and in-depth illustration of the social and economic reality of Black Oregonians.
As the overall unemployment rate in Oregon continues to decline, the official unemployment rate for Black Oregonians is 17.6%- more than double the rate for the state as a whole. About 30% of Black Oregonians are underemployed in part-time work.
In response, the Urban League of Portland is providing direct help to jobseekers through its annual Career Fair to be held on April 22nd at the Lloyd District Doubletree Hotel. The fair will feature more than 50 employers who are looking to diversify their workforce. The organization has also directed additional resources and staffing towards its Workforce Department, which provides services to individual jobseekers, to respond to the growing demand in the African American community for job-seeker support, especially amongst the long-tern unemployed.
“As the National Urban League’s report is drawing the national spotlight to the issue of the Black Employment Gap, it’s important to note that in Oregon, not only do these employment disparities persist, they are actually worse than the national average,” said Michael Alexander, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland. “Our response to this crisis is to bridge this employment gap by building a well-qualified workforce with employment services, and advocating for more equitable employment policies, while working alongside our dedicated partners in the private sector who are committed to diversity and who recognize the Urban League is an unparalleled resource to connect them with talented and qualified diverse candidates in our city and region.”
The Urban League plans to intensify its advocacy to Close the Black Employment Gap, through campaigns aimed at increasing employment opportunities for African Americans in the City of Portland and around the state. The organization is currently engaged in campaigns to increase employment opportunities for Community Health Workers, and will soon launch a campaign to reduce employment barriers to job-seekers with previous criminal convictions.