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President Obama has frequently suggested that the best way for him to aid minority Americans economically is to expand the economy for everyone. Ironically, that position is not particularly different from words uttered by former President Bush who actually did very little to benefit non-white Americans. Now, the help-everybody-and-minorities-will-benefit approach to pulling the nation out of recession is coming in for criticism from civil rights groups, labor organizations and some big city mayors. The criticism became particularly loud last month when the latest unemployment figures were released showing that joblessness among Blacks had reached a 28-year high of 15.7 percent. Blacks are followed by Hispanics whose unemployment rate climbed to 13.2 percent. In other words, while there are signs (new housing purchases, for example) that the economy is beginning to move out of recession; Blacks and other minority group members do not appear to be benefitting from the Obama recovery and the $787 billion of stimulus money his administration has pumped into the economy.

As a result, the Congressional Black Caucus and major civil rights groups have begun leading a call for a “targeted” aid package designed primarily to create jobs and put minorities back to work. “Make no mistake: this is the civil rights issue of the moment,” said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, who suggested a multiracial Poor People’s Campaign like the one Martin Luther King Jr. helped organize just before his assassination. The Black and liberal pressure on Obama for more job creation began roughly two weeks ago. But the message became more urgent last week when top Federal Reserve officials indicated that if nothing is done, the current high unemployment levels could last for years. (source: Taylor Media Services)