According to the New York Times, national employment for African Americans is looking up—in May about one million more blacks had jobs than last year. Unfortunately New York City didn’t follow this trend.
Over half of all African Americans and non-Hispanic blacks in the city who were old enough to work had no jobs this year, according to data from the federal Labor Department. And when black New Yorkers are jobless, it takes them almost a full year on average to find another job, which is much longer than New Yorkers of any other race.
Harlem resident Latoya Ingram has been looking for full-time work since 2009. The Syracuse University graduate believes her unemployment is directly linked to her race.
“I could be wrong, but I’ve had interviews, and they seem really, really interested,” she said to the New York Times. Ingram notes that she’s sent out over 1,000 copies of her resume since her unemployment. “Then they see me in person and they’re not that interested…I think it’s a combination of being black and overweight: they think you are lazy.”
The report states that black women unemployment remains around 49.2 percent with a similar rate for black male unemployment. David R. Jones, the president and chief executive of the Community Service Society of New York which assists poor and low-income New Yorkers, notes that it’s even more difficult for the less-skilled and less-educated workers his group attempts to help find work. Part of the reason is because people with bachelor’s degrees or some college education are now taking on lower-level work such as security jobs.
“The wage didn’t go up,” he said. “This is a low-wage job. It pays $10 an hour with no health insurance.”
While not everyone agrees that it’s difficult for African Americans to find jobs in the city, they do acknowledge that the lack of employment is most likely due to the types of businesses that are growing and the types of businesses that are downsizing. Chief economist for the city comptroller’s office, Frank Braconi, notes that jobs are growing in professional and business services such as law and accounting where black are traditional underrepresented.
“African-Americans in New York City basically inhabit the middle market in the labor force in terms of wages and education, not the low end,” he said to the New York Times “And the middle market has been weak.”
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