Stimulus One Year Later: Women and Minorities Shortchanged
On the eve of the one year anniversary of passage of the $787 billion stimulus, an analysis of funding shows that people of color and women have yet to benefit.
A new report by the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University said the stimulus has failed to reach women and people of color.
The report, “ARRA and The Economic Crisis One Year Later,” says that Black-, Latino-, and Women-owned businesses make up 40% of businesses in the U.S. but have only received 5 percent of stimulus-related government contracts.
In a separate report, Transportation Equality Network, a coalition of 300 organizations, released a report in December that says only 5% of transportation contracts have gone to women-owned businesses. Not one has gone to a black owned business.
Civil rights groups won a major victory, Tuesday. The Obama administration withdrew the proposed $70 million for a proposed airport connector for the BART public transit system in the San Francisco Bay area. A lawsuit said the Civil Rights Act was violated because minorities would not benefit from the federally funded project.
Despite this win, the report authors also point to the growing disparity in unemployment as additional proof for the disparity in economic recovery. White unemployment has fallen to 8.7 percent in January in the last four months while black unemployment has risen to 16.5 percent in the same amount of time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As funding is pouring into the green economy, Dominique Apollon with the Applied Research Center, a media and advocacy group, said a “systemic lack of access to those jobs” is contributing to the disparity. He said white men hold 80% of energy sector jobs while black women account for only 1.5 percent.
Last week, prominent civil rights leaders met with the President to urge job training programs for people of color. They received no commitment.
The President has often said that propping up the entire economy will help everyone. But John Powell, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute, disagreed. He said continuing to push money to certain industries like construction or the clean energy, which is dominated by white men, without training programs, “stimulates the status quo.”
Powell and other advocates say the administration needs to be more “proactive and deliberate” in allocating stimulus funding.
Although comprehensive statistics are not available because the administration does not track gender or race for stimulus funds, the authors compiled available data.
About one-third of the stimulus has been allocated. Most of it on direct assistance to the states and individuals through tax cuts and unemployment insurance. The bulk of the money is expected to be released during 2010 and 2011. Advocates say this leaves time for the administration to make changes.
Advocates say the first step is to start compiling race and gender data on recovery dollars for a complete picture.
A senior administration official pointed to an expansion of unemployment insurance and the expansion of the child care tax credit to help women and people of color. He also said a series of proposals to be released are expected to provide economic stimulation as well.
Meanwhile, Vice President Biden spent the day in Michigan promoting the benefits of the stimulus. He toured a job training center and a solar energy plant to promote stimulus-backed job creation.
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