The State of the Union address on Tuesday left Florida NAACP leader Torey Alston hopeful that President Obama will provide leadership on economic inequality this year.
Alston, the chair of economic development for the organization, said the NAACP is focused on advancing the job prospects for Floridians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 584,000 Floridians remain unemployed as of last month.
Alston said the organization is particularly worried about African-Americans in Florida because their unemployment rate is higher than the national average of 6.7 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of 11.9 percent for African-Americans and a rate of 8.3 percent for Latinos in December.
While the president emphasized raising the minimum wage to close the economic gap, Alston said more jobs would also have a greater impact on poverty.
“I think the biggest takeaway for us is highlighting that African-Americans continue to be on the wrong end of economic inequality,” he said.
Home ownership is another challenge for African-American Floridians, Alston said. The U.S. Census Bureau reported a national home ownership rate of 43 percent for African-Americans and 48 percent for Latinos, significantly lower than the national average of 65 percent.
Alston also supported the possibility that President Obama may rely on executive orders to accomplish his goals, but he stressed that Congress should work to provide bipartisan leadership on economic issues, as well.
“We want to see the type of economic policy that truly begins to turn the tide as it relates to real job creation, homeownership and truly giving communities of color a shot at living the true American dream,” he said.