Jobs trend cheers Carter, but not unions or blacks
Unions and blacks in the United States are calling for massive job-creating programs despite the relatively stable unemployment rate in July -- 7.8 percent of the labor force.
The Carter administration is encouraged by the insignificant increase in the national jobless figure from 7.7 percent in June. The rate has now been on a 7. 7 to 7.8 percent plateau for three straight months after sharp rises in unemployment figures earlier in the year. Treasury Secretary G. William Miller now talks of the recession "bottoming out" and others cautiously predict that the worst now may be over.
Neither organized labor, nor the National Urban League, nor other minority organizations are as encouraged. Too many are still unemployed -- more than 8.2 million last month -- they say, and unless the administration and Congress change present economic policies, many more are likely to lose jobs: The unemployment rate still may rise to 8.5 percent by the end of the year.
Labor noted particularly that industrial employment rose by 240,000. The AFL-CIO said that while heavy layoffs in the auto industry may be over, ripple effects of the slowdown in that industry now are spreading layoffs through the whole economy, and further unemployment can be expected -- particularly in manufacturing industries that are the heart of union membership.
The Urban League stressed that black unemployment continued to rise in July, going from 13.6 percent in June to 14.2 percent. Its spokesmen blame national economic policies for "a continuing heavy toll of black victims of unemployment and poverty."
Labor's position and that of the Urban League, closely similar, were made clear at openings of a United Steel Workers of America convention in Los Angeles and of the Urban League in New York. Keynote speakers at both sessions stressed that there is an urgent need for programs to put people back to work quickly while creating job opportunities for those who have never worked.
The addresses were directed as much to presidential and congressional candidates as to the delegates assembled in the two cities. John E. Jacob, executive vice-president of the Urban League, left no doubt of that. Speaking in the absence of Vernon Jordan Jr., who is recovering from a gunshot wound, Mr. Jacob said bluntly that the black vote is "up for grabs" and that the Democrats cannot count on it.
"We want the candidates to understand that black people want jobs, not reasons why we can't get those jobs," he said. "The black vote that elected Jimmy Carter in 1976 isn't in anybody's pocket in 1980."
Political warnings were less blunt as the United Steel Workers, with 75,000 of its members unemployed, opened its convention on the West Coast. But there was an undercurrent of frustration and political discontent in the ranks of 4, 000 delegates. Speakers openly criticized the Carter administration's economic policies and called for a "turnaround" that would put stress on more economic growth and full employment.
Meanwhile, in Washington, AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland, also registered strong objections to administration policy and blamed Congress for "playing out the farce of balancing the budget on paper while the economy is weakening."
The AFL-CIO is holding off political decisions for 1980 until after the Democratic convenion next week but its unhappiness with Jimmy Carter as president and potential candidate is no secret.