DETROIT (AP) _ The government should address the economic challenges facing America’s inner cities with the same urgency it displays when responding to natural disasters, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said.

The Chicago-based civil rights leader told The Associated Press on Sunday that he hoped President Barack Obama would use his Labor Day speech Monday in Detroit to address the need for a jobs-oriented urban policy.  

“The jobs crisis is at emergency proportions,” Jackson said. “Detroit and urban communities are a perpetual Hurricane Irene.”

A key to addressing urban unemployment is improving public transit so city residents can go where the jobs are, besides working to return jobs to cities, Jackson said.

“People in Detroit can’t get to where the jobs are, and the jobs won’t come to them,” he said.

Jackson said he hoped Obama’s speech would offer a preview of what he intends to say when he addresses a joint session of Congress on Thursday.