business or swamped with resumes, so people now are job hunting through networking.” Through a friend, Armorer got involved with The Five O’Clock Club, a Philadelphia-based organization that provides career coaching, networking opportunities, and job training. Though she’s yet to land a position, Armorer remains undeterred. “Luck plays a part in everything, but being prepared and being optimistic and continuously working at it helps makes it work.”
Brimmer believes the economy will expand albeit slowly. He says the U.S. will have a recovery but it is going to take time to absorb the increment in unemployment. He projects the unemployment rate hitting a peak of 6.2% (it was at 5.5% overall in February 2002 and at 9.6% for African Americans) in the third quarter and then gradually declining, eventually returning to a level under 5% but not until well into 2003.
“Are there emerging markets here in the U.S. within black communities? If so, what are they? Should churches have a role in economic and/or community development?” — B. Hurd, St. Louis
Churches have always played a critical role in revitalizing communities, creating jobs, and providing safe environments and educational resources for children. The key, say the BE economists, is recognizing that community development and economic development, while closely related, are not exactly the same thing. Examples of the former include housing development and after-school programs for youth; instances of the latter include launching or purchasing for-profit enterprises.
“Many of the preachers now know how to read balance sheets, so I would encourage them to do that but to differentiate,” Brimmer says. “Concentrate on the community development, which they can probably do much better than economic development.” He believes that those churches with the know-how to provide this kind of development should do so.
There are emerging markets in the U.S., and African American communities are among them. There’s untapped demand and unrealized potential within black communities — areas where there’s been tremendous earnings growth, yet which still lag behind other parts of the country in terms of things like technology access and consumer services. Not every church is equipped to play a direct role in economic development. Those prepared to do so should.