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In order to remedy the problem with the economy, one must first understand the type of economy we are in and how we got here. There are three types of economies: agricultural, manufacturing and service economies. Nations typically transition through these economies going from agricultural to manufacturing and then finally service. Since service economies are the most profitable, nations that are in service economies are usually seen as a fully developed nation, however, being a fully developed nation comes with a price.

The labor market is not a market that businesses want, it is a market that businesses need. If a company can obtain profits and maintain quality without having to hire anyone, that is the option they would take, hence the continuous replacement of jobs through technology. Let’s keep in mind, jobs are not lost unless they become irrelevant. If a job is replaced by a machine, software, or other technology, the job was replaced, for example bank tellers being replaced with ATMs. This simply says that the demand for services are still high, it’s just that companies prefer to provide these services with lower liability, risk, and push-back, therefore they invest in technology.

Now let’s get back to the service economy and its relationship to the black workers. There are many workers who want to see jobs return to America, but let’s face it, if corporations are not willing to decrease their profit margins and investors aren’t willing to see less quarterly returns, that ain’t happening. The service economy provides much more profits simply because there are less exchange of goods and much more exchange of service. Industries such as, insurance, marketing, monitoring (i.e. Onstar, Home Security, etc), transportation, shipping, communications, and hospitality (hotels, tours, shuttles, etc) are among the top earners.

So here’s the issue. If, historically, Blacks were predominantly America’s service providers, especially in hospitality, then shouldn’t this be a market we triumph in? Why now aren’t we the pick of the employment litter? Is tapping our labor resources more of convenience to Corporate America than it being about fairness? There is a common misconception that Blacks provide poor customer service but if that was an inherent trait, then how could this country have grown exponentially in the 19th and 20th century?

Is the small population of prideful Blacks causing the stereotypes for the masses that we would not work just as hard as someone else? We are clear that Black owned businesses are the minority of businesses in America, is this really the root cause to us holding the highest unemployment? Is the subliminal message that, now that America is fully established, we should create our own businesses or seek employment at Black companies? Whatever it may be, there is certainly a disparity with the roaring unemployment in the Black community based on the type of economy we are now in. However, as the story goes in the book “Who moved my cheese?”, if we are unable to fare well in this newly birthed economy, we will wind up saying farewell to our collective sustainability.

Devin Robinson is a business and economics professor and author of Rebuilding in the Black Infrastructure: Making America a Colorless Nation and Blacks: From the Plantation to the Prison. Contact him at

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