In the Baltimore region, and across America, job growth remains the most important issue on people’s minds. We have evidence that our economy is improving, but it also remains painfully clear that we have much more to do — both nationally and right here in our own community.
In my neighborhood, we are aware that, despite all the partisan attacks, President Obama is succeeding in turning our economy around.
When Barack Obama took office, the Bush recession was costing our economy more than 700,000 jobs each month. In response, President Obama and congressional Democrats acted quickly to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
We avoided another Great Depression by cutting taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of working families — and by providing emergency funding to support about 300,000 educator jobs, more than 4,600 law enforcement positions, and investments in the clean energy sector that supported 224,500 jobs through 2010.
As a result, through February 2012, our economy has added more than 3.9 million private sector jobs during more than 24 consecutive months of job growth.
Here in Maryland, we are in a better employment environment than many other states. The number of employed Marylanders is now at its highest level since September 2008.
Yet for far too many job seekers, especially African Americans, the job picture continues to be daunting.
That is why my office will be hosting our 15th Annual Job Fair on April 16 from 9 am until 2 pm at the Fifth Regiment Armory (410-685-9199 for more information).
Informally we are calling the job event “Jobs Plus.” We do so because we have learned that we can be most helpful to job seekers by bringing them together with 56 employers ready to hire, experts in job seeking skills, and the ability to place job applications “on line.”
For example, this year’s “Job Plus” Fair includes “Résumé Doctor,” writing assistance and advice, as well as Computer Café and ONE-Stop Mobile Career Centers, provided by the Maryland Workforce Exchange.
Job creation continues to be my number one priority in the Congress. However, I also realize that our local initiatives must be both practical and realistic.
The truth is that good jobs continue to be scarce. That is why I have asked the employers to participate in the job fair only if they are hiring at this time or in the very near future — and the 56 employers signed up to participate have all promised they have jobs to offer.
“Jobs Plus” also will be connecting job seekers with the resources needed while they look for employment: food stamps, job training, consumer credit counseling, and experts who are knowledgeable about unemployment benefits.
Attendees will also be able to attend free workshops on how to utilize social media when searching for a job; resources available for Veterans; résumé writing and interview techniques, family budgeting, healthcare resources and medical assistance programs. We also will have a workshop to provide helpful information for ex-offenders who are searching for employment.
The participatin employers represent a range of industries including banking, hospitality, healthcare, public safety, colleges and universities, and government agencies. From past experience, I am confident that participants can find the jobs that they are seeking at this expanded “Jobs Plus” event.
Even those who do not immediately find a job often gain “leads” that will help them take the next economic step in their lives.
I realize, however, that more than our free, once-a-year opportunity will be required to reverse the increasingly desperate economic tide in our community. That is why, back during the Clinton years, I worked so hard to support the creation of “One-Stop Career Centers,” that President Obama has continued to fund.
These gateways to better lives can help job-seekers gain the practical assistance they need — but only if they are first convinced by family or friends to take advantage of this help.
If you know someone who is looking for a job — or for a better position — bring them to our Jobs Plus event on April 16. Then, encourage them to utilize our City’s One-Stop Career Centers, conveniently located at 1100 North Eutaw St. (410-767-2148), 3001 E. Madison St. (410-396-9030), and Mondawmin Mall (410-523-1060).
Baltimore County and Howard County residents can find the same help at 7930 Eastern Blvd. (410-288-9050 ext. 424), 11101 McCormick Rd. (410- 887-7940), or 7161 Columbia Gateway Dr. (410-290-2600).
Americans want to work. Together, we can rebuild our economy and our community.
Congressman Elijah Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.