PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Protesters called on global leaders to do more to create jobs for the growing number of unemployed in the United States and globally at a peaceful march in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Leaders of 19 leading developed and developing economies and the European Union meet in the western Pennsylvania city on Thursday and Friday for a G20 meeting to discuss how to improve financial market reform to avoid another economic meltdown like the one that rocked the global economy a year ago.
But while there are some early signs that recessions in the United States and elsewhere may be ending, protesters complained that the recovery was not creating enough jobs.
“(This) is a jobless recovery and there is the prospect of a permanent high unemployment economy unless a jobs program is enacted,” Larry Holmes, of protest organizers Bail Out the People Movement, told Reuters.
On a sunny Sunday, about 300 protesters enjoyed a peaceful march carrying signs reading “Will Work For Bonus - $1 Million a Minute,” “A Job is a Right” and “Greed Kills.” Despite the balmy weather, the turnout was well short of the thousands that organizers had said they expected.
International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in an interview published on Friday the global economy should recover from recession in the first half of 2010, but it will take time for unemployment levels to decline.
And in an interview aired on Sunday, President Barack Obama said all signs point to the U.S. economy starting to grow again but there may not be enough new jobs created until next year.
“Probably the jobs picture is not going to improve considerably — and it could even get a little bit worse — over the next couple of months,” Obama said in an interview taped on Friday with CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Holmes called for a new version of the Works Progress Administration that U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt enacted during the 1930’s Great Depression. His group also says it wants to revive Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for a second Civil Rights Movement — that everyone has a right to a job.
“We’re not going to accept a jobless recovery,” said Larry Adams, a postal worker who came from Jersey City, New Jersey, for the protest. “The crisis is such that it’s dragging down everyone’s living standard.”
Pittsburgh resident Lisa Coleman, 44, pushed her 3-month-old grandson in a stroller. “I’m barely making ends meet,” the nursing aide said.
“I’m worried about the economy, but I think we’re slowly but surely coming out of a recession. But we need help, we need (the G20 leaders) support for funding and jobs.”
Sunday’s march in the largely black Pittsburgh neighborhood called the Hill District began near what protesters call a “tent city” of unemployed and homeless who have traveled here to have their voices heard.
Sara Vanwyk, 27, a marketing manager for a medical device company who flew in from Tampa, Florida, said: “We’re spending billions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan yet people are living homeless on the streets.”
Leaders at the summit will also talk about how to stop bankers from taking excessive risks and creating a huge potential liability for taxpayers, just to boost their personal bonuses. They are also expected to renew their commitment to keeping huge economic stimulus in place for as long as needed.
“This country is headed for bankruptcy,” said retired auto worker Paul Wohlfarth from Toledo, Ohio. “We’re listening to the 1 percent and they led us astray. The system is broken.”
Another march is planned for Thursday, which organizers hope will disrupt talks. Protesters say they will also undertake a series of actions on Friday outside “institutions that the G20 protects and defends,” including Starbucks, Gap, McDonald’s and banks.
Writing by Mark Egan, reporting by Michelle Nichols and Jonathan Barnes, editing by Maureen Bavdek