Members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Monday night that the $85 billion in cuts to federal spending, known as the sequester, will disproportionately affect blacks and other minorities, in part because they are more likely to work for the government.
"Sequestration will impact everyone, but it will have a particularly harmful effect on communities of color who were hit first and worst by the great recession, and have yet to significantly feel the effects of the recovery," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Monday.
Lee said in 2011, employed blacks made up 20 percent of the federal, state and local public-sector workforce, and that women were 50 percent more likely to work in the public sector.
Lee was joined by Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), who agreed that cuts to public-sector jobs would hurt blacks disproportionately.
"African-Americans are more likely to work in the public sector, where the jobs are going to be cut," she said. "We already have the highest unemployment, and will be severely hurt by the reduction in unemployment benefits."
Lee cited several other reasons why the sequester will hurt, from a study conducted by the Center for American Progress. That study said minorities would be hurt by cuts to long-term unemployment benefits, workforce development programs, early childhood grants, youth job programs, healthcare research and home heating assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).