frederica-wilson_web.jpgSpecial to South Florida Times

MIAMI GARDENS — In the second such event in recent weeks, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, is convening a meeting to focus on South Florida’s unemployment rates and the need for job creation in communities hardest hit by the nation’s economic difficulties.

Wilson will host the Congressional Black Caucus “For the People” Jobs Initiative over two days, with a town hall meeting at a Miami Gardens Church and a jobs fair in a downtown Miami center.

The two-day event will kick off Aug. 22 with a town hall meeting held at Mt. Hermon AME Zion Church, where members of the caucus will hear residents’ views on how to deal with joblessness. It will be held in partnership with Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II.

For the job fair at the James L. Knight Center, the caucus has called on more than 120 private and public sector organizations to help tackle unemployment.

Black Caucus members expected to come, all of them Democrats,  include Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, as well as Reps. Andre Carson of Indiana, Donna Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Yvette Clarke of New York, Lacy Clay of Missouri, Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, Donna Edwards of Maryland, Laura Richardson of California, Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Maxine Waters of California.

Overall unemployment rates in Miami-Dade County are at 12.4 percent and 16.2 among blacks; for Broward County, 10.1 percent overall and 13.9 among blacks; for Palm Beach County, 11.7 percent overall and 15.9 percent among blacks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wilson, in a statement, described such numbers as “staggering,” adding that the “status quo is simply intolerable.”

Wilson, who won the District 104 congressional seat last Nov. 2, said from her first day in office, “My focus has been on jobs.” The unemployment rate in South Florida, she said, is “no longer a crisis but an epidemic.”

Dunn said that he is hoping the job fair will make a difference on the unemployment scene. “A start is better than nothing,” he said. “If we do nothing, we’ll get nothing.”

The wealth gap among whites, blacks and Hispanics in South Florida is the largest it has ever been, Dunn said. “I’m grateful that [Wilson] was able to pull [the event] together. She has done the heavy lifting … bringing in the employers and her colleagues from the Black Caucus.”

Job fair workshops include help with job readiness, restoration of rights, seal and expungement, mortgage modification, resume writing, interview skills and salary negotiations.

Wilson hosted a jobs discussion on July 16 at Miami Dade College’s North Campus, the local segment of the national Speak Out For Good Jobs Now! Rebuild the American Dream Tour.

U.S. Reps. Peter Deutch of Florida and Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona accompanied her for that session.

For its town hall meetings and jobs fairs around the country, the Black Caucus is focusing on the hardest hit, economically distressed areas in an effort to connect people with job opportunities and obtain feedback on its upcoming proposals.

The caucus plans to introduce legislation that will create jobs and draft a report that includes the outcome from each community visited and solutions for long-term job creation and economic growth, according to its CBC Web site.

“It’s time to take matters in our own hands and provide real opportunities for people to get back to work,” Wilson said.

Cynthia Roby may be reached at

Photo: U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson