Congressman Bobby Rush and Sen. Roland Burris were among those who attended. Rush called on jobless Americans to march on the Senate saying, "If the Senate can't move on a jobs bill, then we to move on the Senate."
Rev. Jesse Jackson talked about other factors making the situation more difficult for people who need jobs.
"This is a state of emergency. When you cut public transportation and folks on welfare can't own a car, can't get to work, it's a state of emergency," Jackson said.
The conference continues through Wednesday with sessions at the Hyatt McCormick Place and RainbowPUSH headquarters.