2011 Focus on Unemployment
A Response to Jesuit Ministries and the Unemployed
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After consecutive surveys of Jesuit ministries indicated that the primary issue affecting communities served by social ministries is “unemployment,” Jesuit Conference Social and International Ministries decided to pursue this issue as an advocacy and programmatic priority for 2011. It is clear that the unemployment issue has a rippling affect — lost jobs mean inability to pay for utilities, food and child care; people lose housing and are moving into crowded situations with family members or are becoming homeless; children are moved around which impacts their educational achievement and their emotional well-being.
At the same time that unemployment has risen and the needs of communities served by the ministries have increased, funding received by many Jesuit affiliated or Ignatian inspired ministries and organizations has gone down. Despite their own financial constraints, many Jesuit ministries and parishes have responded by trying to create new programs: such as job training, job counseling, resume assistance, job boards and employment fairs; others have tried to find creative ways to increase direct assistance to meet emergency needs tied to food, housing and utilities. To assist ministries in their response, the Jesuit Conference’s focus on unemployment in 2011 will have a programmatic component as well as an advocacy component.
Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign
The primary vehicle for the Jesuit Conference’s programmatic and advocacy response is be our participation in the newly launched Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign. The Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign is an initiative established by Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith-based bodies to create a strong nation-wide network of ministries and faith communities committed to address the severe crisis of unemployment and the pain it is causing so many of our nation’s people and families.
The main goals of the Campaign are to:
- Organize a national network of 1000 committed ministry-based groups that will provide the unemployed and underemployed with spiritual and emotional support; assistance in filing for unemployment compensation and other federal and state programs; and help with job training and support;
- Provide information, resources and networking opportunities that will support ministries in their commitment to the unemployed;
- Advocate for public policies that create jobs, support the unemployed, and ensure dignity to workers.
Will you join us in the Campaign?
If so, complete the Congregational Commitment Pledge online or fill out the downloadable copy (PDF) and fax it to 773-728-8409. If you join the campaign’s network of ministries, we’ll help you get started, provide you with information on how your ministry can be most helpful to the unemployed, and share with you what others in the network are doing and send you advocacy action alerts.
Faith Advocates for Jobs has produced a Toolkit for congregations that want to get involved. Standing With the Unemployed: A Congregational Toolkit can be downloaded here (in PDF format). In the toolkit you’ll find:
- Campaign Goals
- Worship Resources
- Congregational Pledge
- What Can Your Congregation Do?
- Coming Together in a Time of Crisis
- Getting Immediate Help to Unemployed Workers
- The Spiritual Meaning of the Economic Crisis
Current Advocacy Actions
“Put Jobs First — A Statement on the Federal Budget by Faith Advocates for Jobs” – as an Steering Committee member of the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign, the Jesuit Conference joined over 40 national, regional and faith based bodies and organizations, released a statement on the federal budget calling for putting job creation first, rather than focusing entirely on deficit reduction.
Send a message to your Senator and Congressional Representatives to tell them that focusing entirely on deficit reduction, rather than job creation, and cutting safety net programs will prolong and intensify the suffering of million’s of the nation’s unemployed. In August 2011, Congress passed a deal to raise the debt ceiling that included $1 trillion cuts over the next 10 years, and the creation of a bipartisan congressional “supercommittee” charged with finding another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving. This deal stands to cut vital investments like education and training programs, jobless benefits, and programs that serve low-income and unemployed families. With an unemployment rate over 9 percent and threatening to go even higher in the coming months, it is morally questionable to target programs that help to create and train people for jobs, and to threaten safety net and assistance programs that serve the unemployed.
It’s not too late to influence the work of the supercommittee created as part of the Budget Control Act of August 2011. Join Jesuit Advocates to Take Action Today!
News, Analysis, Policy Briefs, and Resources Related to the Unemployment Crisis
- Catholic Social Thought and Unemployment — reflection by Fred Kammer, S.J. Executive Director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute, New Orleans, from the JustSouth Quarterly (August 2011)
- Religious Leaders Arrested at the Capitol for Budget Protests — Rev. Paul Sherry, National Coordinator of Faith Advocates for Jobs among those arrested on July 28 after refusing to stop a prayer vigil asking for lawmakers to keep social safety net programs intact during negotiations to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and cut federal spending (July 2011)
- “June Job Growth Appalling” — June’s unemployment climbed back to 9.2% to in June, Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign decries paltry job growth numbers, and calls on Congress to halt proposals for further cuts in infrastructure and transportation projects which will lead to even greater job reductions (July 2011)
- “Economy Adds Just 18,000 Jobs in June — Unemployed workers will not receive unemployment benefits unless Congress Acts before year’s end” — Brief from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) advocates for extending unemployment benefits (July 2011)
- “A Snapshot of Employment During the Economic Recovery” — New policy brief from the Economic Policy Institute argues that continued loss of public sector jobs is an obstacle to reaching pre-recession employment levels (July 2011)
- RESOURCE: Partnerships Community of Practice is for staff, ministry leaders and volunteers from faith-based and community organizations committed to helping Americans succeed in the labor market. The site includes sections for those working on ministry-based “Jobs Clubs,” those working with “multi-barrier populations.” It also includes strategies resources, networking opportunities and grant opportunities for faith-based groups and organizations interested in starting new “community based partnerships” to serve the unemployed or underemployed.
- CBS News Video: How Faith Groups Help Job Seekers — Video highlights the successes of faith groups in serving the unemployed; features best practices from a Catholic parish in Connecticut and includes interviews with leaders of the Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign.
- “Parishes Invited to Join Advocacy Network to Support the Unemployed” — Article from Catholic New Service highlights the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops support for the new Faith Advocates for Jobs Campaign and their encouragement to Catholic parishes to get involved. (April 2011)
- “Faith, Networking and Hope” — Article from the AARP Bulletin on the benefit of parish and ministry-based unemployed worker support committees (October 2010)