Archive for Black Unemployment

The Economics of Race in America

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Guest Columnists with tags , , , , , , , on August 5, 2013 by Gary Johnson

William Reed

By William Reed

If we talk about what ails us that will make it better. When will Black Americans stop getting short shrift? Here lately the Supreme Court’s invalidation of valuable parts of the Voting Rights Act, to which  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called “a central pillar of the civil rights laws that helped bring America’s ideals closer to reality for all” … and “feared the ruling would jeopardize the rights of racial minorities.”

“Black life is valued less than White life” and has become a familiar activist chant. From the very beginning, there was no more powerful theme in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin than the issue of race. Now, the national conversation is about “race in America.”  What we really need across America is “a conversation on race” that helps Blacks to rearrange some priorities.

As President Barack Obama said after the Zimmerman verdict “we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our communities. What Americans need are a series of race dialogues toward garnering ongoing commitments to combat prejudice and strengthening understanding among all.”

Republican Sen. John McCain should be recognized as an ally saying America has “a long way to go” before racial disparities end. The senior senator from Arizona said that Obama’s impromptu speech about being a Black in America, “…proved there needs to be more conversation about the issue of race. We cannot become complacent when we still have a dramatic disparity in Black youth unemployment,” said McCain.

It wouldn’t be as ironic as some Blacks think that Republicans follow McCain’s lead to bring about a conversation on race in America. Race and racism are the most challenging issues confronting America.  Yet, polite society refuses to discuss it. Racial inequality in the United State underlies a wide range of societal issues that affect different groups disproportionately. The total wealth gap between White and African-American families increased from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009.  The biggest drivers of the racial wealth gap are: years of home ownership; household income; employment; inheritance; financial support from families or friends; and pre-existing family wealth. Whites have 22 times more wealth than Blacks.

The story of race in America has been at the center of some of our greatest national traumas, as well as serving as the yardstick by which progress toward a more equal and fair society is measured. It’s apparent both from the varied reactions to Obama’s presidency and events beyond it, that race still serves as a critical stumbling block in American society.

Times of challenge provide the opportunity to create change.  There has never been a better time to re-examine and correct racial inequalities in American society. Instead of allowing the taboo on the subject to continue, the nation needs to start an honest discussion about race. We all need to pay more attention to the growing wealth inequality and expanding racial wealth. There needs to be some systematic, organizational commitment to making policy that helps Blacks to gain grants, and investment in our communities and businesses.  Let no one tell you “all is equal” with demonstrated disparities in health care, education, housing and criminal justice continuing.

Don’t let the “talking heads” that regularly represent the country’s wealth interest to have you believe “all things are equal.” White Americans have continued to enjoy material advantages based on past racially exclusionary practices and current institutionalized discrimination. However, this long history of racism has created social costs in terms of social instability and loss of economic productivity. African Americans bear costs of low self-esteem, high unemployment, low socioeconomic status, and limited opportunities.

As we march from one unemployment line to another, don’t let American politicians and media weasel out on this one. A dialogue on the role race currently plays in the economy from the workplace to the criminal justice system is needed. Politicians should be encouraged to expedite a series of conversations on race across the country.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org

Advertisements

NAACP’s Ben Jealous Says Black Americans Doing Far Worse Under The Obama Administration

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Money/Economics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , on February 12, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Ben Jealous 2

February 10, 2012

In a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” NAACP CEO and President, Ben Jealous, told the show’s host that black Americans are doing far worse than when President Obama first took office. The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started,” Jealous told show host David Gregory. “White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing far worse.”

Statistics show that the African-American community is in bad shape under the Obama Administration.  The Labor Department reports that the black unemployment rate was at 12.7 percent when Pres. Obama initially took office. As the employment rate for the nation dropped below 8 percent, black unemployment increased to 12.9 percent and then to 14 percent for December.

Commentators such as Yvette Carnell, Dr. Wilmer Leon and Dr. Boyce Watkins at Your Black World have consistently stated that the president’s performance in the black community should be judged based on the quality of his results, not the color of his skin.  Also, Dr. Julianne Malveaux recently wrote that the Obama Administration needs to speak out more about existing racial disparities and persistent problems in black unemployment.

You can read the entire article courtesy of our friends at Your Black WorldClick here to go there now.

What do you think?

President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and Rising Unemployment Equals One Big Mess for America

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

(August 17, 2011) As he seeks re-election in a submarine deep recession and a terrible economy, President Barack Obama announced today that he will introduce an economic plan next month.  The last report that I read had the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1%.  The unemployment rate for blacks is 16.2%.  For black males it’s 17.5%; for black teens the unemployment rate is a whopping 41%. 

No President in recent history has been re-elected with a jobless rate that high.  The President also announced that the housing market may not improve for a year.  Speaking of housing, if the President and his economic team don’t improve jobs and housing, the President will be looking for a new home.

I am on the record for not being impressed with the President’s economic team of advisers.  I think the collective body does not have enough of a connection with the black community and has given the President terrible advice.  I know he is President of the United States.  I know the political ramifications of “appearing” to give black folks any kind of preferential treatment. 

That being said, no one can ignore the fact that nearly 14 million people are unemployed and millions more have given up looking for jobs or haven’t found a way to move from part-time to full-time work.

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, in Charlotte, N.C., the unemployment rate for blacks is 19.2%.  If you factor in people who have given up looking for jobs, that number exceeds 20%.  Folks, these are Great Depression numbers.

It is a fact that President Obama inherited this economic mess from the Bush administration.  It is also a fact that statistically the economy has been weaker under President Obama than it was under President Bush, which is probably why President Obama’s disapproval rating on the economy is low (around 60%).

This series of events begs the following questions:  How much criticism should President Obama get for his administration’s management of the economy?  Is President Obama responsible for the soaring black unemployment rate?

It’s no coincidence, (at least in my mind) that the White House has serious concerns about President Obama’s popularity in the black community.  A few months ago the White House launched a dedicated web page for black folks (President Obama and the African American Community).

In recent weeks, President Obama has been harshly criticized by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  These two men are on The Poverty Tour:  A Call To Conscience.  While Smiley and West have been scorned by many in the black community for criticizing the President.  I believe they have a right to challenge him on the issues.  The problem for many, (myself included), is Tavis’ reputation for being petty and self-serving precedes him.  In addition, the attacks from Smiley and West on the President are perceived by many as “personal cheap shots.”

Yesterday during the Congressional Black Caucus “For the People Jobs Tour” town hall in Detroit, MI, Black Caucus members told the mostly black audience to “unleash” them to confront President Barack Obama on the issue of jobs.  WTF?

According to report filed by Correspondent Jeff Johnson posted on The Grio.com, California Rep. Maxine Waters a leading participant on the five-city Congressional Black Caucus “For The People” Jobs Tour, expressed her and other Black Caucus members’ dilemma of having to walk a line.  Who is forcing the elected officials to “walk a line?”

Waters was quoted saying that the Congressional Black Caucus does not put pressure on the President.  She explained, “Let me tell you why. We don’t put pressure on the President because ya’ll love the President.  You love the President.  You’re very proud…to have a black man [in the White House] …First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the President too hard, you’re going after us.”

Whoa.  Let me step back and digest this.  My first reaction to reading this story was that the Congressional Black Caucus members who feel that they cannot put pressure on the President during this period of Great Depression era unemployment are weak-kneed, gutless and spineless.  Don’t get me started.  I’m trying to trim down on my cussing.

What a bunch of inept elected officials.  In my mind, the facts reflect that this is a crisis.  Courageous people take action during a crisis.  They don’t stand around waiting for permission to take action.

Detroit’s unemployment may be the worse for a major city in America.  According to folks in the audience, President Obama has not come to Detroit during the worst days of the recession.   With unemployment in the city at almost 50 percent that’s justifies asking:  Why hasn’t the President visited our city to address this issue?  If he can visit Iowa and other places in rural America, he should be able to find time on his schedule to visit the Motor City.

There is growing concern, even among hardcore supporters that President Obama is allowing himself to be detached from the “urban poor”—translation “poor black people.”  President’s Obama’s approval rating is reportedly 80% among Black America.

I don’t care if the President’s approval rating is 100% among black folks.  Given this economy he needs to be questioned and pressured to force his administration to provide a plan for how they will address this issue for black, poor and working Americans.  His ass should be in Detroit, Los Angeles and other cities that are suffering with double-digit unemployment.

Something is terribly wrong when black elected officials are afraid to challenge the President because he’s black.  Has politics trumped common sense and doing the right thing?  It appears that some members of Congress are more concerned with keeping their job, than doing their job.  That’s some terribly “flawed logic.”  Another way of saying it is:  “That’s some bullshit!”

If I am one of the President’s advisers, one of my primary concerns for the 2012 Presidential election would be voter apathy, especially in the black community.  Capturing and killing Osama Bid Laden will not be enough to secure this election.  This election is about the economy– specifically, JOBS and curtailing rising unemployment.  If things don’t improve for black people, and the President is perceived as being disconnected and not having addressed the issues–black people will not show up at the polls to vote.   CTRL + ALT + DEL  = Game Over!

As for the Congressional Black Caucus, here’s a piece of advice:  How about doing what you were elected to do and represent the best interest of your constituents and not yourselves.  If that means criticizing the President of the United States to get him to address one of the most important issue of our time, then do it.  I would like to know what the Congressional Black Caucus is doing to help create jobs and solve the soaring black unemployment rate in the black community.  One would think that this would be the number one action item for this group of black elected officials.  Has the Congressional Black Caucus put forth any recommendations or solutions to help the President solve this issue?  Hey, I’m just asking?  Hopefully, if Caucus members have been working on helping to create jobs in the communities in which they serve this will come to light.

One can always hope.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.

Source:  Unemployment statistics courtesy Bureau of Labor Statistics.

34.5% Of Young Black Men Are Unemployed

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on November 25, 2009 by Gary Johnson

The Washington Post printed an article on the high unemployment statistics for black men.  In case you missed, read the article below.

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

These days, 24-year-old Delonta Spriggs spends much of his time cooped up in his mother’s one-bedroom apartment in Southwest Washington, the TV blaring soap operas hour after hour, trying to stay out of the streets and out of trouble, held captive by the economy. As a young black man, Spriggs belongs to a group that has been hit much harder than any other by unemployment.

Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions — 34.5 percent in October, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. And last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in the District, home to many young black men, rose to 11.9 percent from 11.4 percent, even as it stayed relatively stable in Virginia and Maryland.

His work history, Spriggs says, has consisted of dead-end jobs. About a year ago, he lost his job moving office furniture, and he hasn’t been able to find steady work since. This summer he completed a construction apprenticeship program, he says, seeking a career so he could avoid repeating the mistake of selling drugs to support his 3-year-old daughter. So far the most the training program has yielded was a temporary flagger job that lasted a few days.

“I think we’re labeled for not wanting to do nothing — knuckleheads or hardheads,” said Spriggs, whose first name is pronounced Dee-lon-tay. “But all of us ain’t bad.”

Construction, manufacturing and retail experienced the most severe job losses in this down economy, losses that are disproportionately affecting men and young people who populated those sectors. That is especially playing out in the District, where unemployment has risen despite the abundance of jobs in the federal government.

Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in Spriggs’s age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy, with cost-conscious employers wiping out the very apprenticeship, internship and on-the-job-training programs that for generations gave young people a leg up in the work world or a second chance when they made mistakes. Moreover, this generation is being elbowed out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to put food on the table.

The jobless rate for young black men and women is 30.5 percent. For young blacks — who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination — race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education. Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.

Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent.

Victoria Kirby, 22, has been among that number. In the summer of 2008, a D.C. publishing company where Kirby was interning offered her a job that would start upon her graduation in May 2009 from Howard University. But the company withdrew the offer in the fall of 2008 when the economy collapsed.

Kirby said she applied for administrative jobs on Capitol Hill but was told she was overqualified. She sought a teaching position in the D.C. public schools through the Teach for America program but said she was rejected because of a flood of four times the usual number of applicants.

Finally, she went back to school, enrolling in a master’s of public policy program at Howard. “I decided to stay in school two more years and wait out the recession,” Kirby said.

On a tightrope

The Obama administration is on a tightrope, balancing the desire to spend billions more dollars to create jobs without adding to the $1.4 trillion national deficit. Yet some policy experts say more attention needs to be paid to the intractable problems of underemployed workers — those who like Spriggs may lack a high school diploma, a steady work history, job-readiness skills or a squeaky-clean background.

“Increased involvement in the underground economy, criminal activity, increased poverty, homelessness and teen pregnancy are the things I worry about if we continue to see more years of high unemployment,” said Algernon Austin, a sociologist and director of the race, ethnicity and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, which studies issues involving low- and middle-income wage earners.

Earlier this month, District officials said they will use $3.9 million in federal stimulus funds to provide 19 weeks of on-the-job training to 500 18-to-24-year-olds. But even those who receive training often don’t get jobs.

“I thought after I finished the [training] program, I’d be working. I only had three jobs with the union and only one of them was longer than a week,” Spriggs, a tall slender man wearing a black Nationals cap, said one afternoon while sitting at the table in the living room/dining room in his mother’s apartment. “It has you wanting to go out and find other ways to make money. . . . [Lack of jobs is why] people go out hustling and doing what they can to get by.”

“Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance,” added Spriggs, who is on probation for drug possession. “I don’t want to think negative. I know the economy is slow. You got to crawl before you walk. I got to be patient. My biggest problem [which prompted the effort to sell drugs] is not being patient.”

The economy’s seismic shift has been an equal-opportunity offender, hurting various racial and ethnic groups, economic classes, ages, and white- and blue-collar job categories. Nevertheless, 16-to-24-year-olds face heavier losses, with a 19.1 percent unemployment rate, about nine points higher than the national average for the general population.

Their rate of employment in October was 44.9 percent, the lowest level in 61 years of record keeping, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for men in their 20s and early 30s is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies.

Troubling consequences

Unemployment among young people is particularly troubling, economists say, because the consequences can be long-lasting. This might be the first generation that does not keep up with its parents’ standard of living. Jobless teens are more likely to be jobless twenty-somethings. Once forced onto the sidelines, they likely will not catch up financially for many years. That is the case even for young people of all ethnic groups who graduate from college.

Lisa B. Kahn, an economics professor at Yale University who studied graduates during recessions in the 1980s, determined that the young workers hired during a down economy generally start off with lower wages than they otherwise would have and don’t recover for at least a decade.

“In your first job, you’re accumulating skills on how to do the job, learning by doing and getting training. If you graduate in a recession, you’re in a [lesser] job, wasting your time,” she said. “Once you switch into the job you should be in, you don’t have the skills for that job.”

Some studies examining how employers review black and white job applicants suggest that discrimination may be at play.

“Black men were less likely to receive a call back or job offer than equally qualified white men,” said Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Princeton University, referring to her studies a few years ago of white and black male job applicants in their 20s in Milwaukee and New York. “Black men with a clean record fare no better than white men just released from prison.”

%d bloggers like this: