Town hall meeting addresses unemployment, poverty

Town hall meeting addresses unemployment, poverty

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Finding a job and earning a decent living was the focus of a town hall on Saturday in Memphis.

Official government figures show record or near record unemployment across the country and here in Memphis, but some said those numbers don't tell the full story.

"They don't see it. They don't hear it. They can't feel it, so it's difficult for people really understand how unemployment and under employment really affecting our city and of course families," Rep. Barbara Cook (D-Memphis) said.

Despite the city's unemployment rate hitting a 19-year low, Cooper said thousands of people don't have a job or have been forced to take a job they're overqualified for.

On Saturday, she and others held a "Jobs for All" town hall.

Moderated by WMC's Kontji Anthony, the town hall focused on problems facing Memphians struggling to earn a living.

"If you're making a decent wage, you are not going to be in poverty. It's a simple as that," University of Memphis social work professor Elena Delavega said.

A panel of policy experts offered their analysis.

"The root cause of almost all of the problems that you were trying to address lies in the unemployment problem," Rutgers University law and economics professor Phillip Harvey said.

They also took questions from the audience.

"Everywhere that you go, in Walmart now, they are developing self-checkout stations and driving cars. That's devastating to the common worker," audience member Robert Rogers said.

The town hall made clear that problems won't be solved overnight, but organizers said the first step is acknowledging there is a problem by making a little noise.

The Jobs For All town hall also included a strategy session to develop ideas to present to policy makers.

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