Mayor Carter, Sen. Harris say economy must be rebuilt
Blacks, women, and young Minnesotans are suffering the most from the economic fallout due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the latest state and national unemployment numbers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Black unemployment jumped from seven percent in March, at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, to 16.4% in April, then dropped slightly to 15.5% in June. It’s five percent higher than Whites’ (10%) and two percent higher than Asians (almost 4%).
This economic blow is one of three crises that have hit Black communities and communities of color, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and U.S. Senator (D-Calif.) and now-Democratic Vice Presential Candidate Kamala Harris both stressed during a July 15 virtual event with local trades union officials.
“This is a peculiar time in our city, state and country,” said the mayor. “Crisis after crisis–not just a healthcare pandemic or just an economic crisis, but this national reckoning on race, all at the same time and calling on the character of this country…the character of our communities. It is also calling on the character of our elected leaders.” Carter added that at least 70,000 city residents have filed for unemployment.
Harris unveiled a Senate bill that, if passed, would ban evictions and foreclosures for one year, prohibit rent increases and negative reporting to credit bureaus on evictions. “As a country, we are in the midst of three profound crises: two most recently, and one that has been around for generations,” she said.
The California senator and former U.S. presidential candidate spoke on the virus, the economic downturn, and the wave of protests that emerged after George Floyd’s death on Memorial Day. “Everyone is being hit in so many ways,” Harris added. “We are about to step off a cliff,” she said of unemployment benefits that are soon to run out.
Both Carter and Harris advocate new investments to help create more jobs in such areas as infrastructure, transit, weatherization of buildings and homes, building more sustainable housing and green jobs.
“We have to rebuild our future,” Carter said. “We are going to need more jobs to move forward. Hopefully, that means that we are building an economy that is not trying to figure out how to get back to where we were three weeks or three months ago, but focus on pushing our country forward in a way that all of our community members can get a chance to participate in our economy.”
“There is a lot that we can do, and I remain optimist,” Harris said. “We must have a plan that addresses every community…and also protects and creates jobs in America.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.