Congressman Elijah Cummings

Nationally, we now have witnessed more than five years of significant job creation. Unemployment, which reached 10 percent during the depths of the Bush Recession, has been cut nearly in half.

Yet, for far too many of our nation’s working families, the positive economic statistics heralding a “recovery” from the Bush Recession must appear to describe someone else’s country – an almost mythical society in which no one is struggling to find a good job or take care of his or her family.

Why do millions of Americans — and, especially, African Americans — remain trapped in slow-moving unemployment lines or marginal positions with no future? The answers are complex, but it seems clear that both national and more local obstacles must be overcome for us to achieve full recovery.

The Continuing Struggle in Congress

Most of my Maryland constituents realize that there are those of us in Washington who are giving voice to their outcry for more good jobs that pay living wages. Yet, clearly, the Republican House and Senate majorities are not listening.

On a straight, party-line vote, the Republicans have pursued federal budget proposals that threaten to be a disaster to our still fragile economy. Experts at the Economic Policy Institute project that the Republican proposals, if enacted into law, could reduce economic growth and cost our nation nearly 3 million jobs in the year 2017 alone.

In sharp contrast, President Obama continues to advocate for job creation as a top priority. Measures proposed by our Congressional Progressive Caucus could create more than 8 million good jobs by 2018.

President Obama, our allies and I will continue to fight for that better vision because all Americans have a personal interest in our economic success – most of all, Americans of Color.

We all applaud the fact that our overall national unemployment rate has dropped to around 5.5 percent. Tragically, however, the national jobless rate for African Americans remains mired at Recession levels [10.4 percent in February].

Here in Maryland, due to the strong presence of federally funded programs, the Black unemployment rate is somewhat better than the national average [8.8 percent at the end of 2014]. Yet, the negative impact of federal budget cuts on Maryland jobs continues to be a serious obstacle to achieving full employment in our African American neighborhoods.

Connecting Marylanders with Good Jobs

We know that, here in the Baltimore Region, many good employment positions are going unfilled. This is why my office will be hosting our 18th Annual Job Fair on April 13, from 9 am until 2 pm, at the Fifth Regiment Armory.

Over the years, I have learned that my office can be most helpful to job seekers by bringing them together with employers who are ready to hire. This year, the majority of our more than 50 participating employers will take resumes onsite — and many will be interviewing on the spot.

Our April 13 Job Fair is free, but photo identification will be needed to gain entrance to the Armory. I encourage job-seekers to give themselves a competitive advantage by visiting my website in advance [http://cummings. house.gov] and selecting the links to the career pages of participating companies that interest them.

Here, however, are some highlights:

• We will offer workshops for college students and recent graduates on how to apply and obtain paid, entry-level training positions with the Federal Government through its Pathways Program. For those who are interested, representatives from the Social Security Administration, the US Department of Veterans Affairs and USAJobs (the Federal Government’s official jobs site) will participate.

• Job Seekers will also benefit from meeting with representatives from the CHOICE Program (Community Hiring for Opportunities in Construction Employment) and Helmets to HardHats. On-site simulators and demonstrations will be helpful to people looking for employment in the building and construction trades.

• A number of other service providers will supply resources for people as they continue to look for employment. Attendees will be able to attend free workshops on resume writing, interview techniques, and how to use social media in their job search.

• For example, once again, this year’s Job Fair will include the very popular “Résumé Doctor,” writing assistance & advice, Computer Café and ONE-Stop Mobile Career Centers provided by the Maryland Workforce Exchange.

For those who are looking for a job (or a better job) or know anyone who is, our April 13 Job Fair may well become their pathway to success.

Past experience has demonstrated that people do obtain good jobs at our Jobs Fairs. Others have taken the first step toward better utilizing our City’s One-Stop Career Centers, conveniently located at 1100 North Eutaw Street (410-767-2148), 3001 E. Madison Street (410-396-9030), and Mondawmin Mall (410-523-1060).

Baltimore County and Howard County residents can find the same help at 7930 Eastern Boulevard (410-288-9050 ext. 424), 11101 McCormick Road (410- 887-7940), or 7161 Columbia Gateway Drive (410-290-2600).

Americans want to work. We must continue to invest in their dreams, both in Washington and here at home.

I remain convinced that, working together, we can rebuild our economy and our communities.

Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.