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View from the Hill Blog: No Lack of Diversity in Unemployment Lines

By Nicole Palya Wood, National Grange View From The Hill (8/26/11)

  AUGUST 31, 2011 --

Last week, President Obama continued to display his transparent lack of connection with the struggles of everyday Americans when he issued yet another unfunded mandate, I mean Executive Order, to enforce diversity hiring in the Federal Government’s army of employees. Anyone who takes a second to stand on the corner of Federal Triangle here in D.C. would be remiss in not noticing the cornucopia of skin colors, age groups, and gender of those with Federal I.D. badges. This is not a problem in need of an executive order and it definitely should not be on a President’s priority list who has sustained over 9 percent unemployment for the balance of his tenure in office.  

In the Executive Order, Mr. Obama talks about the obligations of the Federal Government as the nation’s largest employer. You can actually stop right there if you want to. I am thinking this a catastrophic sign that the world promoter of capitalism has more employees working for the government than they do by any other major private company. Apple may have more money than Exxon these days, but even they are smart enough to only have 50,000 employees. Hiring workers costs money and when the Federal Government does it, you and I pay that bill with our taxes. The average American wants to pay their local businessman for services, not a federal agency that their tax money is already funding. While the Federal Government continues to usurp new business and service sectors, it pushes out the private sector jobs and increases our tax burden.

Eight months ago, I sat and listened to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address. It was riddled with mandates for Americans to rekindle their entrepreneurial spirit, and “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” I liked the speech. What I haven’t liked is the follow-up. The regulatory agencies who are constantly cranking out needless restrictions and requirements for our small businesses must have been listening to a different speech because it has been business as usual for them here in D.C. How about some incentives from the government that actually help small business innovate, educate and build, rather than regulations that choke and bind every day operations? It is downright impossible for small business owners to invest in innovation or hiring new workers regardless of their color or sex, when those funds have to be used on regulatory compliance.

Let’s look at some numbers as of July 2011. Total number of unemployed Americans: 13.9 million. Additional number of Americans forced to work part-time or reduced hours due to cut backs: 8.4 million. Those who are unemployed but haven’t looked for a job in the last 4 weeks for one reason or another: 2.8 million. Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates were: adult men (9.0 percent), adult women (7.9 percent), teenagers (25.0 percent), whites (8.1 percent), blacks (15.9 percent), and Hispanics (11.3 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 7.7 percent (U.S. BLS, 8/5/11). This tells me that there are more blacks without jobs than whites, but more whites without jobs than Asians, and 25 percent of our x-box generation can’t get a job period. There is no lack of diversity in this data, nor in the unemployment lines. The complexion of our great nation’s unemployed is not one divided by race and creed but unified by hopelessness and fear. Americans aren’t scared of not getting a promotion, they’re terrified of not having a job to begin with. 

Mr. President, I dare say your priorities are skewed.  Prioritizing diversity in the Federal workplace over focusing on creating more total jobs for all Americans, makes about as much since to me as checking my smoke detectors before Hurricane Irene hits tonight, instead of boarding up windows and gathering sandbags.

-Nicole Palya Wood
National Grange Legislative Director

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