Immigrants and D.C. Unemployment

Courtesy of Patrick Madden / WAMU 88.5

Esayas Ayele, right, getting hired by 7-Eleven representative Mark Crist at a city-sponsored One City, One Hire employment event.

D.C.’s unemployment is 11.1 percent, but it’s uneven. In some wards, it’s at 3 percent, while in others, it’s as high as 20 percent.

In response to D.C.’s unemployment divide, the District launched a campaign to boost hiring of the city’s residents. WAMU 88.5′s Patrick Madden reports from a city-sponsored hiring event for 7-Eleven on Monday, where the first hire was Esayas Ayele, a recent Ethiopian immigrant. Ayele told Mayor Vincent Gray, “I was a senior banker in my hometown with a degree in accounting. I am lucky, a very lucky guy.” As Madden reports, not everyone was happy as only 26 out of the 100 people there were hired:

Ayele feels lucky, but maybe not loved; nearby, Stephanie Taylor watches his hiring disapprovingly. She was turned down for one of the openings.

“I think this was a waste of time,” says Taylor. “If you just want to hire foreigners, you know, why would you have a jobs fair?”

Taylor’s frustration that immigrants get jobs over native born D.C. residents is nothing new; a similar sentiment is being echoed by those critical of Gray’s recent signing of an executive order that prevents police officers from questioning the immigration status of arrested individuals. Some are even going so far as to say that immigration should be curtailed or stopped until unemployment is down.