In my office, the barbershop, and on our street corners, the request I hear most often from my neighbors is: "Mr. Cummings, I need a job!"
Jobs – good jobs that pay a living wage and offer benefits – remain the most important issue on people's minds. That is why job creation continues to be my number one priority.
We have evidence that our economy is improving. Despite all of the partisan resistance in Washington, President Obama and progressive policies from the White House and Annapolis are succeeding in turning our economy around.
We have not forgotten that, when President Obama took office, the Bush Recession was costing our economy more than 700,000 jobs each month. In response, our new president and congressional Democrats acted quickly to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
At the federal level, we avoided another Great Depression by dramatic, but balanced, policies. We provided emergency funding to support hundreds of thousands of education jobs, manufacturing jobs and law enforcement positions; and we cut taxes for small businesses and 95 percent of working families.
Steadily, if slowly, our strategy is working – despite relentless opposition from our Republican colleagues. February 2014 was the 48th straight month of private-sector job growth nationally. American businesses added 8.7 million jobs over that time.
In our home state of Maryland, Gov. O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Brown and their Democratic colleagues in the legislature have maintained Maryland as one of the best places to live and work in the nation. Despite Republican budget cuts, sequestration, and anti-labor attacks at the federal level, Maryland is one of only 17 states to recover more than 100 percent of the jobs lost during the Bush Recession. We must all pull together to strengthen this trend – and our initiatives must be both practical and realistic.
For African Americans especially, whose rate of unemployment remains twice the national average, the job picture continues to be daunting. That is why my office will be hosting our 17th Annual Job Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 14 at the Fifth Regiment Armory. More information is available at our office (410-685-9199) and on the Internet (http://cummings.house.gov).
I am once again sponsoring this public service event, because we have learned that we can be most helpful to job seekers by bringing them together with 40 employers ready to hire, and experts in job seeking skills. We also will be providing participants with the ability to place job applications online. Once again this year's Job Fair includes, "Career Corner," "Résumé Doctor," "Computer Café," and ONE-Stop Mobile Career Centers provided by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.
We all know that good jobs continue to be scarce, especially for African Americans. That is why I invited the employers who confirmed they are hiring at this time or in the very near future. Employers participating will represent a wide range of industries – including banking, hospitality, healthcare, public safety, universities and government agencies. They have confirmed that they have more than 1000 jobs to offer.
Participants will learn about the MTA's Red and Purple Line preferred job training program – as well as receive free workshops on "Steps to Federal Employment," and utilizing social media when searching for a job. Once again, Maryland's One-Stop Career Centers, services for veterans, and opportunities for apprenticeship programs will be represented – along with helpful information about unemployment benefit and employment information for ex-offenders.
During the last 16 years, many of our neighbors have found good jobs at our annual events. Equally important, many others have gained the "leads" that helped 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 still-desperate employment picture in our community. This is why, back during the Clinton years, I worked so hard to support the creation of "One-Stop Career Centers," initiatives 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.
So, if you know anyone who is looking for a job – or for a better position – send them to our event on Monday, April 14 (photo identification is required to enter the Armory). Then, encourage them to utilize 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 and Howard County residents can find the same help at 7930 Eastern Boulevard (410-288-9050 ext. 424), 3637 Offutt Road (410-887-8912), 11101 McCormick Road (410- 887-7940), or 7161 Columbia Gateway Drive (410-290-2600).
Working together, we can rebuild our economy – and our community.
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings represents Maryland's 7th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.