It is Black History Month, again. This month is set aside to celebrate the many contributions made by blacks to American culture. But beyond the routine photo-ops and politically correct statements, this is a time to address the often overlooked challenges facing black communities across the country.
At the top of the list of challenges facing black Americans is the dramatic lack of economic opportunity available to black residents in major American cities.
Black unemployment rates are still sky high. In cities including Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C., the unemployment rate among African Americans is 19, 23, and 18 percent, respectively, according to the most–recently available U.S. Census Bureau data.
These dramatic unemployment rates, which are many multiples of the national average, obscure even worse carnage in specific neighborhoods. In Atlanta’s Castleberry Hill neighborhood, the black unemployment rate is 30 percent; in Chicago’s Canaryville, it’s 40 percent; and in Washington D.C.’s Congress Heights, it’s 28 percent. Nationally, the current black youth unemployment rate is more than double that of whites.
With unemployment comes crime. According to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, violent crime is up significantly in major cities nationwide. A Wall Street Journal survey finds that 16 of the 20 largest police departments reported a homicide increase in 2016. And of the four cities that decreased, three had homicide increases over 50 percent in 2015. Increased crime chases away existing business activity, further reducing job opportunities.
To end this vicious cycle, legislators must relentlessly pursue policies that foster business and job creation. We should not forget that it was now deceased former U.S. Congressman and Vice Presidential nominee, Jack Kemp, who along with President Reagan’s economic advisor, Art Laffer, introduced the concept of urban economic empowerment zones.
These aforementioned and disturbing statistics have come under the leadership of liberal progressive policies. And most recently, the lack of economic growth in the black community has been exacerbated under the leadership and policies of the first black President and his Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez.
Therefore, U.S. Senators can take a major step to rectify this situation by confirming Donald Trump’s Secretary of Labor Nominee, Andy Puzder.