BOSTON (CBS/AP) – A lot of folks will be heading to Boston over the next couple of days as the National Urban League sets up its annual conference at the convention center in South Boston.
It’s the first time in decades that the well-known conference has come back to Boston.
WBZ-TV’s Alana Gomez reports
This year’s conference begins Wednesday morning and ends on Saturday. The focus is jobs in America, and how to get people back to work again.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports
“We will have a jobs fair,” said Marc Morial of the National Urban League. “We’ll launch a new Urban League jobs network, which is an online portal where people can connect with 150,000 jobs.”
Speakers include Gov. Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Tom Menino, Rev. Al Sharpton, Desiree Rogers of Johnson Publishing, Dr. Charles Ogletree, as well as a discussion between Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates.
“Bill Gates and his foundation have made a big commitment to education. Skip Gates has just been an iconic scholar, studying the history of the United States, the history of African Americans,” said Morial.
One of topics on the docket is the economic downturn’s effect on the black middle class.
According to a new study by the National Urban League Policy Institute released Wednesday the recession has erased the gains made by the black middle class over the last 30 years as the unemployment rate of blacks with a four-year college degree has skyrocketed.
The study said that the unemployment rate for blacks with a four-year college degree has tripled from 1992 while overall black unemployment levels are nearing 1982 levels when it was close to 20 percent.
The unemployment rate for blacks with a four-year college degree was 6.5 percent in 2010 compared to 2.9 percent of whites with college degrees, the study said.
The report mirrors similar studies by the Economic Policy Institute and the Pew Research Center that says the economic meltdown in recent years has hit black households hard.
Like the previous studies, the Urban League report said black home ownership fell sharply in recent years due to the mortgage crisis and affected overall black medium income.
The National Urban League Policy Institute used U.S. Census and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for the study.
Morial said the report showed that the recession affected the middle class, not just poor and working class African Americans as some might assume.
“These are people who played by the rules. They built wealth, went to college and had good jobs,” said Morial. “But in a short period of time, they’ve fallen back.”
The large losses by the black middle class, Morial said, is one of the key reasons why the median wealth of black household declined dramatically since 2005.
The median wealth of white U.S. households in 2009 was $113,149, compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
The National Urban League launched its conference Wednesday in Boston with the release of the report entitled “At Risk: The State of the Black Middle Class.”
Morial also is scheduled to give his annual “State of the Urban League Address” Wednesday evening at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, where he will cite the Pittsburgh affiliate of the Urban League as an example of a successful and active affiliate.
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