January 7, on the House Floor, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) asked the unemployed to send him their resumes so he could put a face on America's continuing unemployment problem.
"In order to show the huge need for jobs, I'll be collecting resumes from Americans who are unemployed or underemployed. I'll submit them for the Congressional Record.
I hope to dramatize the shameful condition of unemployment and compel action to do something about it. I want to remind my colleagues every day that people want to work.
Today I call on my fellow Americans to send me your resume and your story to email@example.com."
Unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, has been addressed in the past year with little to show for the efforts. The House Ways and Means Committee collected letters from the long-term unemployed, heard testimony from experts, but failed to move forward with any recommendations or legislation. Over the past seven months, the problem of long-term unemployment has improved only slightly; 44.3% of the unemployed or 6,441,000 jobless have been without work for 27 weeks or longer. Those near record numbers are more than at any time since record keeping on this statistic began in 1948. These 6.44 million long-term jobless Americans face a labor market with only one job opening for nearly every eight unemployed/underemployed workers.
On January 12, Rep. Jackson seemed pleasantly surprised by the response of the jobless to his resume collection idea when interviewed by Lauren Victoria Burke from Crew of 42 .
Regarding the number of resumes he has received, "15,000 so far and they are coming in everyday." When asked how he came up the resume collection concept, Rep. Jackson stated, "Working on a project back in Illinois, and I'm delivering 15,000 resumes to our Illinois governor because he truly doesn't understand the unemployment plight in Illinois." The unemployment rate in Illinois is currently 9.6%. Rep. Jackson plans to place 9,000 resumes in the Congressional Record.
At PUSH headquarters in Chicago last week, Rep. Jackson said, "We've got a Democratic Party, Republican Party, a Tea Party. We need a Jobs Party." Rep. Jackson's statement will hit a nerve with many unemployed who feel ignored and abandoned by those they elected. His rhetorical Jobs Party could attract quite a few members, since nationally there are nearly 15 million unemployed, 2.5 million workers who believe the job market is so bad that they have stopped looking for work and another 9 million who are working part-time but want full time work. 26.5 million unemployed/underemployed could make the Jobs Party a force. In reality it's incumbent on Congress to act as one voice for the millions of jobless who have not seen the economy improve since this jobless recession began more than two years ago.
The unemployed and especially the long-term unemployed have been given a bum rap by many in Congress. Speaking of the unemployed, Rep. Jackson added, "They are not lazy, they are not on welfare. These are lawyers, they're doctors, they're professional people. These are serious people" Others in Congress need to treat the unemployed and unemployment with the respect it deserves. That time is now.
Since Congress saw fit to quickly bailout corrupt and mismanaged banks and insurance companies with trillions in taxpayer funds, they need to show that same resolve and urgency to bailout the millions of unemployed who have suffered the most from this Wall Street created Great Recession. They can begin the job creation process by eliminating tax breaks that encourage companies to outsource jobs overseas. Laws should be passed and enforced that end discrimination against job seekers due to credit score, age and length of unemployment. Congress needs to fix a broken unemployment insurance system that offers no more than unemployment benefits; continuing education and job retraining are vital components in any quickly changing jobs marketplace.
Congress has spent thousands of hours on a weak Wall Street reform package, agreeing on tax breaks for millionaires and DADT, disagreeing on the DREAM Act, and arguing about healthcare legislation that will take years to implement, but they have spent comparably few hours on the issue most important to a majority of Americans; jobs. Congress must make the jobs crisis a priority, since the unemployment problem is rapidly evolving into an unemployment nightmare for millions of Americans. And a real economic recovery is not possible without a strong job market.
While a Jobs Party may be needed, Americans would rather have a jobs party. Unfortunately that jobs party will have to wait until unemployment rates return to normal. Let's hope that time arrives soon.
Send your resume to Rep. Jackson at ResumesforAmerica@mail.house.gov and add your voice to the crescendo from Americans crying out for jobs now.