None of the employment figures include people who had given up looking for a job or who work only a few hours a week while looking for a better job. Last month, the U6 unemployment rate -- the unemployed, the discouraged and the underemployed -- is 14 percent.
Organizers of the March on Washington believed that getting people good jobs was key to helping their communities.
We have no future in a society in which 6 million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty. Nor is the goal of our civil rights revolution merely the passage of civil rights legislation. Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them. Yes, we want a Fair Employment Practice Act, but what good will it do if profit-geared automation destroys the jobs of millions of workers black and white?
Today, Teamsters International Vice President Al Mixon echoed Randolph as he prepared to join tomorrow's March on Washington 50 years later.
I look at how far we've come and how far we have to go. It was about jobs then, it's about jobs now.
Today, 47 different federal programs that focus on job training are run through seven different departments. Most focus on a specific subset of the population: Farmworkers, Native Americans, veterans and youth all have multiple programs that offer basic employment help. Funding for all of the programs in 2009 totaled $18 billion, half of one percent of the total federal budget. That represented a dramatic increase in funding over six years, and the current administration increased funding by a third since 2009.
The Department of Labor estimates that about 26 million people have worked with their programs that offer job training in the past year. In January of this year alone, 22.7 million people were classified as truly unemployed - people who are unemployed (12.3 million), want work but have stopped searching for a job (2.4 million), or work part time because they can’t find full time employment (8.0 million).
Fifty years later, we still have plenty of marching to do.