All Articles Tagged "black unemployment"
As a hiring manager, being completely impartial and non-biased may be unrealistic, if not downright impossible. When searching for the best candidate many times we already have in our minds what that person looks like, whether it’s a female nanny, a male contractor, or a business associate of the same racial background.
It has been shown that many whites hire other whites. The research conducted by Nancy DiTomaso indicates that whites with hiring power hired within their networks, and most times their networks happened to be primarily comprised of other whites. The research did not necessarily make the claim that whites intentionally hired other whites and excluded other races, but rather, whites have not yet expanded the diversity of their networks to include other races, which leads to the exclusion of other races from the conversation. But is it wrong to hire specifically based upon the racial group you are a part of? My answer to this may seem biased and certainly like a double standard, but it is worth understanding.
Currently the overall unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been in years at 7.5 percent, but the unemployment rate for blacks is slow to move from the low teens (13.2 percent). This number shows that blacks need a bit more assistance. Even the government agrees; there have been initiatives like affirmative action in place since the 1970s, which were meant to help underrepresented groups with finding jobs, among other things. (Though affirmative action is constantly under fire.)
Although the gap is closing regarding racial equality in the work place, African Americans are still in need of preferential treatment when it comes to hiring. Whites and Asians are generally more educated, have higher incomes, and lower unemployment rates. These groups seeing a recovery from The Great Recession, with unemployment levels dropping, contrary to the conditions of other races.
If companies are not going to focus on hiring blacks, then it is up to other African Americans to do so. The US Census reported that there were 1.9 million black owned small businesses in 2007 and that they employed over 921,000 workers. A survey that same year by Gazelle Index determined that 64 percent of employees in black-owned businesses were black. So as these black businesses grow and their workforce capacity expands there should certainly be a focus on hiring African Americans to support the continuous need of employment in the black workforce. Not just purely based on showing favoritism within your own race, but also in order to help the overall economy.
In many areas like education, skill building, and employment African Americans are not on par with other races and continue to add to the overall lag in the economic recovery. We should use whatever influence we have to make a positive contribution to the growth of our nation, and if African Americans and others want to make it their duty to focus on hiring blacks, I don’t see one thing wrong with that.
Back in the day, the road to security was through a good government job. But as the government scales back on employment, especially in state and local sectors, it seems that road is not so sure anymore. Capital Public Radio reports that African Americans, which are 30 percent more likely than nonblacks to work in the public sector, will disproportionately feel the negative effects of these cutbacks.
“Most government jobs have good pay and benefits and are probably what we would consider a good foundation for middle-class incomes,” Roderick Harrison, a Howard University research scientist said to Capital Public Radio. “So any loss of government jobs is going to disproportionately hit the middle class…The black population, which is more dependent on government for middle-class job opportunities, is going to be more heavily hit.”
Government jobs have been steadily decreasing since the recession in December 2007 as officials have been forced to make tough decisions to cut budgets and deal with the increasingly high cost of unemployment benefits. Over the last three years, government has gotten rid of 2.6 percent of its jobs, which is according to nonprofit Roosevelt Institute, the largest reduction in its history. Last year 265,000 government employees were cut. In fact, government job loss has been one of the worst hindrances to the economic recovery. Even the 130,000 jobs added in the private sector last April was undercut by the 15,000 jobs cut in government.
“The three pillars of middle-class African-American life were the public sector, good manufacturing jobs, and black entrepreneurs that served the black community during segregation,” Berkeley Center economist Steven Pitts said to Capital Public Radio. “With the end of segregation, you put pressure on the black entrepreneurs, and then there was the decline in manufacturing. Now we see the erosion of the third pillar — the public sector.”
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A few months ago, an estimated 5,000 unemployed souls braved the unrelenting, Dirty-South to attend a job fair in Atlanta where ninety companies were reportedly present. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.
The black unemployment rate is nearly double at 15.5 percent, down from 16 percent in October – this includes 17 percent for black men, 13.8 percent for black women, and (gulp)… 39.9 percent for black teens.
Remember the unemployment rate doesn’t take into account those individuals who are either underemployed or have conceded rejection. So, in reality, black joblessness is somewhere along the lines of 30 percent. Why are so many African-Americans being shunned from full-time employment?
What do employers see or not see in us?
What’s our motivation for trying to embark upon a new career when every statistical number says blacks are being ignored in the job market?
“You got children, you got kids, you got bills,” said Derric Clayton, a former security guard with three children whose been seeking work since May. “You’ve got to stay somewhere. You don’t want to be homeless.”
In giving reasons for non-hire, a Chicago-based employer let the cat out the bag recently by citing a plethora of racial stereotypes in describing blacks as “uneducated,” “unskilled,” “unstable,” “illiterate,” “dishonest,” “lack initiative,” “unmotivated,” “involved with gangs and drugs,” “don’t understand work,” “lack charm,” “have no family values,” and are “poor role models.”
Now, those of us with common sense understand such racial stereotypes are completely untrue.
After all, the job market is saturated with legions of intelligent African-Americans equipped with college degrees and ample work experience. Still, perception is typically construed as reality. To bring about positive economic change, it’s imperative we take the steps necessary to invert our professional reputation.
We can start the correction process by condemning commercial forces that advocate and profit from the perilous sale of gangsta rap, misogyny, excess tattoos and all other filth counterproductive to landing gainful employment.
In addition to the aforementioned stereotypes, we can’t underestimate the rising economic power associated with globalization and outsourcing. With so many jobs being shipped overseas, labor intensive positions that once paid $20 per hour are now offering only $10. Without a college education, it’s very difficult to secure above average wages.
Compounding matters is the disturbing fact black dropout rates have skyrocketed in recent years while college enrollment has subsequently descended; specifically in the case of black men.
If morale isn’t low enough, studies have shown African-Americans equipped with college degrees are hired at a far lower rate than their white counterparts; regardless of GPA and/or experience.
Then there’s the theory claiming some employers simply refuse to interview candidates with black-sounding names. Imagine that? The Tyrones, Chiquitas and Alfonsos of the world don’t stand a chance.
High prison rates among people of color have played an even bigger role in the decimation of Black America as ex-convicts receive no love from employers.
(Huffington Post) — As Congress weighs the Obama administration’s jobs package, RLJ Companies CEO Robert Johnson is pushing a proposal that he says marshals the capacity of the nation’s biggest companies to significantly reduce black unemployment.
Johnson has dubbed his idea the “RLJ Rule.” It calls on Fortune 1000 companies to voluntarily consider a more diverse pool of qualified candidates when filling senior level job openings and hiring contractors. Johnson has described it as the business version of the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, a 2003 mandate that required teams to consider diverse candidate pools when filling senior positions.
(Politics365) — While there’s outrage in Washington and beyond over unbearable Black unemployment rates, recent jobless numbers show a new tale White House spin doctors are sure to push. For the second straight month, the number of African Americans in the labor force increased as the unemployment rate slightly decreased. The U.S. Department of Labor last Friday reported that unemployment for Blacks fell to 16.0% in September from 16.7% reported in August.
It’s not much to scream about since the Black unemployment rate is nearly double the national average. So far, Obama Administration policies have not hit pay dirt, particularly for the long-term unemployed, a number many economists argue is not reflected in the monthly Labor Department surveys.
Crunching the Labor Department numbers further, there were 18,103,000 blacks in the labor force in September. That’s in contrast to 17,930,000 blacks willing and able to work – within four weeks of the Labor Department‘s survey.
(TheLoop21) — With the recession raging on, black men are fighting higher-than-ever unemployment rates. The latest unemployment rates recorded in August 2011 found that unemployment among black males reached 18%, the highest in more than 25 years. But as the ax comes down at work and new opportunities dry up, many black fathers are easing into a new role: stay-at-home dad. Mohammed Wright, a new stay-at-home dad living in Southern California, was laid off two years ago. His original plan was to hit the pavement, network like mad, and land a new and better-paying job within a few months. But “a few months” turned into several months, and then a year with no good prospects in sight.
Blackinnovation.org is a site dedicated to promoting future-oriented business and career development for African-Americans. In a recent essay on the site, writer Johnathan Holifield decries the “civil rights” model most black leaders use when pushing for the creation of jobs. This trend was evident in the “poverty tour” conducted by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, and in the job fairs promoted by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). As an addendum to these acts meant to draw attention to the 17% black unemployment rate, leaders like Rep. Maxine Waters have chastised President Obama for failing to create economic programs targeted for our community.
This type of thinking — seeing the creation of jobs as a political act generated through tactics similar to those of the Civil Rights movement — is exactly what Holifield believes is holding us back. He believes there are no rights in the New Economy, which he calls the “Innovation Economy.” Nobody is owed anything. You have to “self-select” (as Holifield puts it) to participate and then prepare yourself at the highest level possible. This means no waiting for the government or any organization to help. Abandoning the Civil Rights model in favor of self-motivated creating is the only way to prevent blacks from being left behind. Holifield explains:
Unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which secured for African Americans the rights and privileges owed to every American citizen, in the Innovation Economy, we are owed no rights or privileges to innovate — there is only the opportunity to participate through self-selection.
The Civil Rights Movement was spiritually fortified and legally girded by the confidence and expectation that America would be true to her highest governing law — the Constitution — and ensure that every citizen enjoys equally all rights and privileges owed to all Americans. [...]
Reflecting the Civil Rights Movement, if the idea had taken root that we are owed a right and privilege to innovate and connect to the Innovation Economy, then all hopes for our 21st century prosperity would have been anchored in false confidence and misplaced expectation.
Imagine African Americans demanding rights and privileges where none exist. Imagine how much time, energy and prospects would have been wasted if we had undertaken an Innovation Economy Movement based on opportunities being owed to us when none are.
In light of President Obama’s recent speech promoting his jobs bill, prominent African-American scholars have taken this opportunity to think deeply about the root causes of black unemployment. Blackvoicenews.com spoke to several leading African-American scholars who have examined the social customs, psychological damage, and persistent disconnection that consistently renders black unemployment twice as high as the national rate — recession or no. Also interviewed were activists who believe that blacks need to gain a much deeper understanding of the powers at work, political landscape, and changing technologies that impact job opportunities. Leaders need to create plans to attack harmful issues based on a broader scope of information.
Towards this end, “Researchers also believe that what is needed is to take the conversation about Black unemployment well beyond job training and creation and deep into an understanding of the future world of work as well as how to meaningfully connect youth and adults (including the formerly incarcerated) to this new and ever-changing employment landscape,” Blackvoicenews.com reports.
How is this to be done? Hope lies in the fact that the African-American community has typically been resilient and creative, even in the most dire of circumstances. While obvious issues like the education gap need to be addressed, more psychological elements like learned helplessness as a reaction to racism need to be unlearned. Also key is teaching poor blacks to think beyond mere survival, which will allow them to invest in developing the service-based skills required for 21st century jobs.
Another emotional issue is coping with the negative expectations levied on blacks in the work world, which can lead to a lack of reverence for work that comes from being disrespected by society. Again, this is a serious cultural element that cannot be solved by jobs training alone.
In particular danger of falling prey to these impediments are black men, who more often turn to an illegal “hustle” when society fails to fortify them for their tough road. This leads to a pattern of incarceration, which makes getting a job even more difficult. Combined with the lack of education that more black men struggle with, the end of manufacturing jobs that pay a decent wage (and require little education) has led to fewer black men supporting families.
This phenomenon alone has a wide-ranging negative impact on our community. Blackvoicenews.com elaborates:
There are two new rituals about the yearly census reports on poverty in America. One is that the census figures show more Americans continue to sink into poverty. The poverty rate this year jumped to the highest level in nearly two decades. Those hardest hit remain the same. Blacks and Hispanics were nearly twice as likely as whites to be poor. But racial distinctions aside, the census figures showed that there were a lot of poor whites too, and what’s become an increasingly even more common trend is that many of those who tumbled into the poverty column are those who at one time were by all measures considered middle class.
The other ritual is that the news of rising poverty makes headlines one day. And the next it is forgotten. This year is no different. Not one of the GOP presidential candidates made mention of the poverty rate jump. The White House was equally mum on the report. Poverty remains the taboo word on the campaign stump, among lawmakers, the media, and the general public. It remains even a taboo word among many of the poor.
Political and public references to poverty virtually disappeared from the nation’s vocabulary by the end of the 1960s. The continued existence of so many poor people after a decade of civil rights gains, the rash of initiatives and programs to end poverty, and massive government spending on the poverty programs by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, was ultimate proof to many that tossing money and programs at ending poverty was flawed, failed, and wasteful. It seemed to fly squarely in the face of the embedded laissez faire notion that the poor in America aren’t poor because of any failing of the system, but because of their personal failings. This is not just the hard bitten attitude of GOP free market conservatives. It is the attitude of the majority of Americans, including many of those who were poor. When poverty started to inch up in 2001, National Public Radio (NPR), the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School, conducted a national poll to find out just what Americans attributed poverty in the nation too. The terms that were bandied about by many of the respondents no matter their background was that the poor were “unmotivated,” “lacked aspirations to get ahead,” and “didn’t work hard enough.” A majority believed America was a place where with hard work and determination anyone could succeed. In other words, the loud message was that if you’re poor, it’s your fault, don’t blame society, and especially don’t look to government to be the cure.
Democratic presidents and presidential contenders took this message to heart. Still reeling from the fierce conservative backlash to the perceived failure of Johnson’s war on poverty, they gingerly moved around making any public pronouncements about massive government spending hikes on welfare, income supplement, and health care programs for the next two decades. The Democrats trembled that such talk would only stir up white anger by reinforcing the old perception that Democrats tilt toward minorities, and especially blacks.
But the poor stubbornly refused to go away. There was some hope during the 2008 presidential campaign that Democrats might lift the taboo about talking about the plight of the poor. Democratic presidential contender John Edwards fueled that hope when he openly talked about poverty, and that he would the issue one of the centerpieces of his campaign. In a well publicized appearance, Edwards launched his presidential campaign in the front yard of a mangled brick house in New Orleans’s mostly black, Katrina and poverty devastated Upper Ninth Ward. He talked boldly about the need to crusade against poverty. Democratic presidential rivals Obama, and Hillary Clinton, not to be outdone, also gave speeches challenging the nation to do more to alleviate poverty. The talk didn’t last. With the exception of Edwards, whose candidacy quickly disintegrated after public revelations about his love tryst, the candidates didn’t utter another word about poverty during the rest of the campaign. The GOP presidential contender, John McCain, as expected, made no mention of poverty as a policy issue either.
The mantra for the GOP and many Democrats are deficit reduction, tax cuts, and measured, and narrow spending on infrastructure projects to jump start the economy. The widespread view that government should play a minimal role in assisting the poor has crept through in President Obama’s speeches and talks in which he touts personal responsibility as the key to uplift. It would be the height of political and fiscal incorrectness, even heresy, to expect that to change in Obama’s drive to keep and the GOP’s drive snatch back the White House.
The ritual census figures that show that the number of poor continue to grow with little end in sight to the rise hasn’t budged the nation to do anything about their plight. Poverty is the forbidden word that sadly is doomed for now to remain America’s taboo word.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson
With there being roughly 3 million African-Americans out of work, the highest its been in the United States in 27 years – many are wondering when things will get better. Maxine Waters, a U.S. Representative and one of the more vocal members of the Congressional Black Caucus, has been pushing hard against President Obama to put an end to the overwhelming unemployment in the African-American community.
Never afraid of being controversial, Waters has stated that in order for unemployment to change, the President needs to start seeing the priorities of the African-American community on the same level as he views the Iowa swing voters. Her comment stemming from the President’s recent bus tour – where he stopped in Iowa but made no real effort to address states affected the most by the unemployment crisis.
Earlier Thursday, Waters again discussed her reservations about the President with Politico, where she discussed the likelihood that Obama would address the unemployment situation during his speech later on that evening.
“There are roughly 3 million African Americans out of work today, a number nearly equal to the entire population of Iowa. I would suggest that if the entire population of Iowa, a key state on the electoral map and a place that served as a stop on the president’s jobs bus tour were unemployed, they would be mentioned in the president’s speech and be the beneficiary of targeted public policy.”
At the same time, Waters isn’t trying to push a ‘Black Jobs’ agenda – instead, she would rather see a way for high unemployment and poverty areas to receive new programs, tax cuts and emergency assistance. Which in turn, would provide a net-positive impact on the unemployment rates in those communities and the country as a whole.
She later cited Franklin Roosevelt’s Tennessee Valley Authority law, which helped create jobs during the Depression. If the President would employ a similar tactic – focusing instead on the smaller people over the big businesses – perhaps, she believes, the country’s issue would start to mend itself.
During his speech last night, while the President didn’t directly address the issues penetrating the African-American community– he did touch on the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged youth – proving that, he is moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, for Waters the President’s pace is still not quick enough.
“I wanted him to say something about the intolerable rate of unemployment in the African American community. He didn’t quite get there. I do think we have a chance to do something substantive and to get at this terrible unemployment in this country. I think he got it right.” Waters shared with CBS News correspondent, Scott Pelley.
Within the next few weeks, the President is expected to go more into depth about the $447 billion that will make up the ‘American Jobs Act,’ once the tax cuts and spending initiatives are in place.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.