Washington (CNN) - Lawmakers reviewing the impact of the federal economic stimulus program say they are finding a need to more directly target the African-American community, where unemployment figures suggest the jobless picture is worse than the country at large.
At a hearing Wednesday, the Congressional Black Caucus released findings that show blacks comprise nearly 18 percent of the unemployed, even though African-Americans make up less than 12 percent of the labor force.
"The so-called Great Recession has been absolutely crushing for the African American community," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, in a statement accompanying an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee.
Federally sponsored jobs that have come from the economic stimulus program are not reaching black unemployed, according to Ben Jealous, the head of the NAACP. After his testimony, he told CNN, "We have 2,900 job centers around this country and when somebody walks in they only see 10 to 30 percent of the federally funded jobs that are being created - that's outrageous."
Also testifying was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said African-American workers are among the first to feel the economic downturn, and the last to see any recovery that might have begun.
"Schools are closing, bus drivers are being cut, urban hospitals are being closed, public post offices are being closed...the entire public sectors are under attack and that's (having a disproportionate impact on) people of color and cutting vital services at this time," Jackson told CNN.
In the Joint Economic Committee report, which is based on figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment has risen to 19 percent for African-American men in the three-year time frame dating back to February 2007, when 9 percent were unemployed.
As of February, the median duration for a jobless black worker is six months, double the duration before the economic crisis began, the report found.
Among African-American women, unemployment increased from 7.1 percent to 13.1 percent during the same time, according to the report.