The poverty rate for African Americans has reached 27.4 percent, the highest level in four years, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau this week.

“The figures are both startling and very telling,” said Rev. Derrick Boykin, associate for African-American Leadership Outreach at Bread for the World, said in a statement. “That the African-American poverty rate is twice as high as the poverty rate for whites reveals that African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately from social injustices.”

This report comes as President Obama launched his push for passage of the American Jobs Act, the administration’s approach to turning around what Boykin and scores of other poverty analysts and African American leaders label the dire state of the economy. Obama is now on a nationwide tour talking up the merits of the legislation as he and legislators on Capitol Hill know that Americans need jobs.

“ puts more people back to work, and it puts more money back into the pockets of working Americans,” Obama said at a speech at North Carolina State University. “Everything in this proposal, everything in this legislation, everything in the American Jobs Act is the kind of proposal that in the past, at least, has been supported by Democrats and Republicans. Everything in it will be paid for.”

According to the census, the 27.4 percent number for Blacks is higher than that for Whites at 13 percent, Asians at 12.1 percent and Latinos at 26.6 percent. Those numbers have some in the Congressional Black Caucus asking why Obama has taken so long to address the poor and specifically the plight of Blacks in America.

“The bottom line is if I can create jobs and I can get people employed, I want that very badly,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) told Loop 21.

In the meantime, poor people in America need to be taken care of and Boykin says it’s imperative that Congress supports social programs that will help people live somewhat comfortably.

“If it weren’t for safety net programs like WIC, SNAP, and others, many more African-American households would be suffering,” Boykin continued. “We urge the to consider other alternatives to cutting programs that support vulnerable people as lawmakers work to reduce our nation’s deficit.”