Urban League asks Clinton to create jobs Study says blacks are much worse off

January 27, 1993|By James Bock | James Bock,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The National Urban League called on President Clinton yesterday to create jobs for blacks now and to educate black children for the high-tech work of the future.

John E. Jacob, the civil rights group's president, said black Americans view the Clinton administration with hope and apprehension.

They are hopeful because of Mr. Clinton's commitment to diversity, he said, but apprehensive because "we have seen high hopes trampled into the dust before."

Mr. Jacob said the black vote was a key to electing Mr. Clinton. Now, he said, the president should repay black Americans for their support by investing in the nation's "human and physical infrastructure," creating jobs.

"America can't go forward in a global economy while its African-American population is economically thrust backward," he said, renewing the Urban League's call for a 10-year, $500 billion Marshall Plan for America.

In issuing the 18th annual "The State of Black America" report, Mr. Jacob brushed aside concerns about the nation's budget deficit. He stressed instead the deficits in jobs, health care and education "that make America less competitive and threaten to tear her apart."

The report illustrated continuing disparities between black and white Americans:

* Blacks live six years less than whites on average, and they are three times as likely to die of acquired immune deficiency syndrome and about seven times as likely to die by violence. The black infant mortality rate is twice as high as that of whites.

* Black family income in 1991 was only about 60 percent of white income. More than one-quarter of black families took in less than $10,000 a year.

* Blacks lag behind whites in educational attainment. In fact, the gap between black and white high school graduates who go on to college has widened significantly since 1980.

* Only about one-third of black youngsters under 18 lived with two parents, compared with more than three-fourths of white children. Nearly half of black children were poor.

* The black unemployment rate is twice that of whites. Nearly one-quarter of blacks were jobless, had given up looking for work, or were working only part-time while seeking a full-time job.

Mr. Jacob said a $13 billion investment now in various infrastructure projects for which planning has been done would yield 420,000 jobs.

"That price-tag is insignificant in terms of the ultimate outcome -- to get people working, paying taxes and improving this country's ability to compete and produce," he said.

Dr. Lenneal J. Henderson, a University of Baltimore government professor who contributed to the report, said an activist Clinton administration could create unparalleled opportunities for black entrepreneurs who were ready to seize them.

"Infrastructure development requires skills ranging from engineer to laborer," he said.

Aside from encouraging government action, the report called on black America to step up self-help projects -- particularly those that give black children the skills and self-confidence that 21st century jobs will demand.

Jeff P. Howard, president of The Efficacy Institute, a nonprofit education group in Massachusetts, said many black children are raised by abusive adults, classified as "too dumb to learn" in school and terrorized by neighborhood teen-agers.

He proposed a nationwide movement in which black volunteers work directly with schools and social service agencies in rescuing children who have been "left behind."

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