In the short video “Native Americans and Jobs: The Challenge and the Promise,” Algernon Austin, EPI research associate, analyzes the ongoing Native American jobs crisis and presents policy initiatives to address it. Austin finds that although Native American unemployment remains extremely high four years after the official end to the Great Recession, there is great promise to increase employment of Native Americans with policy interventions, including increasing technical education and investing in infrastructure.
“Investments in needed infrastructure have a very a big economic stimulative effect that could help the country in general, and do much to help Native Americans,” Austin said. “Building needed roads and bridges and investing in education will provide short and long term benefits to Native Americans and to the economy.”
Recent EPI analyses of unemployment and employment data for Native Americans showed that Native Americans suffer from crisis-level unemployment rates across the country. They have significantly lower odds of being employed than whites. Further, they have endured five years of unemployment rates over 10 percent. However, implementing policies such as empowering Native American communities, improving Native American education outcomes, investing in infrastructure, and conducting additional research on Native Americans’ economic circumstances would help surmount these trends.
“In an ideal world, we’d pursue all these policies at once; the situation is so dire that immediate action to invest in education and in infrastructure is absolutely necessary,” said Austin.
The EPI video features the DeMaND workforce training program, which offers job and career training. United Tribes Technical College, of Bismarck, ND is serving as the lead institution, overseeing DeMaND Workforce programs at Aaniiih Nakoda College (Harlem, MT), Cankdeska Cikana Community College (Fort Totten, ND) and Fort Peck Community College.
Native Americans and Jobs, The Challenge and The Promise was produced by Judy Plavnick, Co-Owner and Co-Executive Producer, Sit. Good Girl Productions, LLC in Washington, DC. The video was edited by Joseph Braband with videography by Christian Galdabini. Footage of the DeMaND program in North Dakota and original music were produced by David Swenson, Owner, Makoché Studios in Bismarck, ND.