Community Investments

Spring 2009

Community Investments Vol 21, Issue 1
Addressing the Challenges of Unemployment in Low-Income Communities


Boeing plans to lay off 10,000 workers; Yahoo announces 1,500 job cuts. Home Depot, Sprint Nextel, and Caterpillar all announce large reductions in their workforces.1 Nothing evokes the effects of the current recession more than the daily reports of additional layoffs across a broad range of industries. Since the downturn began in December 2007, the U.S. economy has lost approximately 4.4 million jobs, pushing the unemployment rate up to 8.1 percent in February, the highest in a quarter century (see Figure 1.1). More than 12.4 million people are currently looking for work. Not captured in these statistics are people who are underemployed—forced to work part-time or in a job for which they are overqualified—or those who have dropped out of the labor market entirely, so the toll of the recession is likely to be much higher than the 8.1 percent figure suggests. And most economists predict that this rate will continue to increase in the near future, though much hinges on federal efforts to stimulate economic recovery.

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