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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is designed to improve employment, grow the economy, and strengthen the nation’s infrastructure. Wisconsin’s share of the 787 billion dollar program is estimated at 3.75 billion dollars. With African Americans making up six percent of the state’s population, one could extrapolate that approximately $225,000,000 should go directly to employ African Americans, grow the economy in African American communities, and improve the infrastructure in African American neighborhoods.
The six percent figure does not take into account several equities which dictate that African Americans should receive a much larger share of the Recovery Act dollars. For instance, portions of the Act are specifically designed to strengthen economically distressed communities. National studies indicate that the State’s predominantly African American neighborhoods, particularly in the Milwaukee area, are among the most economically distressed neighborhoods in the nation. Moreover, African Americans traditionally account for a disproportionate number of the State’s unemployed, and tend to be the most tenured unemployed. Accordingly, when we adjust for these equities it is apparent that African Americans should receive an even greater share of the proceeds.