Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government (COG), at the urging of newly elected chairman Arrington Dixon, agreed yesterday to try to do something about the region's unemployment problems.
Dixon a member of the D.C. City Council, said persistent joblessness - including 40 percent unemployment among black youths - is a danger singal for the area's economy and that to the tax base of its governments.
He urged coordination of federally financed job-training programs and the creation of a metropolitan work-education council, designed to see that young people are trained and sterred toward available jobs in the city and suburbs. He suggested a regional "summit conference" of political, labor employer spokesmen.
"We are hurting our own local programs by a simple case of not talking to each other, Dixon said.
Although unemployment is hitting hardest at the District of Columbia, Dixon was immediate support from suburban members of the COG board.
"What is a problem for the District of Columbia is a problem for the region," observe Martha Pennino, a cil told Dixon that the completion of Fairfax County supervisor.
Dickran Y. Hovsepian, president protem of the Mongomery County Council, told Dixon that the completion of Metro's suburban subway extensions is a vital key to opening suburban jon opportunities to city dwellers.
Dixon agreed, and told a reporter later that many Washingtonians mistakenly thing think of Metro only as a convenience for suburban commuters.
The COG directors voted to empower Dixon to choose a committee to recommend the first steps to be taken.
Dixon's targeting of an employment program was made in an unaugural talk to the COG board, and follows a recent trend of COG chairmen of stressing specific problems during their one-year terms. The last three chairmen have dealt with housing Metro financing and water supply.
One problem here is the federal government, which employs 25 percent of the region's workers, Dixon said. "There is little or no coordination between federal employment the job needs of the region," he served.
Today, Dixon continued, about 500 area residents are unemployed about double the rate before the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] 75 recession.
"Another statistic emphaiszes by our employment problems cross political boundaries," Dixon said. "There are 37 firms here doing business more than one location in our region. They employ 140,000 people...
"Still, we are plagued as a region unemployment, underemployment job dislocation and the slow pace of job creation compared with the continued expansion of the regional labor force," Dixon said.
Dixon predicted severe consequences if such problems are disolved: "Rising property taxes for [WORD ILLEGIBLE] citizens, which will know no ceiling, or cutbacks in the public services and programs which our citizens expect.