will help them build financial security and wealth for the future.
Discussing solutions to these current economic problems, particularly their impact on African Americans and how black voters should participate in the political process, the BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of Economists assembled in March at the New York City offices of Earl G. Graves Publishing Co. Inc. Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., E.G.G. Publishing president and chief operating officer, led the discussion. The board participants included: Thomas D. Boston of the School of Economics, Ivan Allen College, Georgia Institute of Technology; National Urban League Research and Public Policy Director William Spriggs; Darrell L. Williams of Economic Analysis L.L.C.; Gerald D. Jaynes, professor of economics at Yale University; Margaret Simms, senior vice president for programs at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and Andrew Brimmer, president of Brimmer & Co. Inc.
Clearly, a weak economy with little momentum to generate large numbers of jobs is a huge problem for African American employees and employers, but our economists agree that racial discrimination also plays a major role in black joblessness throughout the country. To that end, they offer ways to hold elected officials accountable for fair hiring practices as well as strategies for growing a business amid decreased government support of minority-owned firms.
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With corporate scandals impacting the stock and job markets, a continuing war in Iraq, and many jobs heading out to foreign destinations, many wonder if the country will ever return to the level of employment it enjoyed during the boom years of the 1990s. Spriggs says that in order to do that, the country must make up a shortfall of 7 million jobs in the public and private sectors.
Layoffs in public-sector jobs, like that held by Samora, are due in large part to local and state governments wanting to trim the fat from budgets. However, layoffs in the private sector are caused by other factors.
Brimmer found in a study he conducted that a huge portion of the layoffs corporations experience are a result of either corporate restructuring and mergers of viable companies or firms that went out of business due to financial distress or bankruptcy.
“Every merger of any note saved expenses by laying off people,” Brimmer says. “Regrettably, to use an old-fashioned term, these are truly labor-saving devices.”
Brimmer also notes that in recent quarters, more productive companies have increased output and generated surpluses. A Wall Street Journal index of more than 1,400 companies indicated that the lion’s share of revenues generated by increased productivity went to profits instead of workers’ salaries and new hires.
Surprisingly, results of research on outsourcing to foreign countries revealed that off-shoring, foreign competition, and imports combined accounted for no more than 500,000 of the 2.7 million jobs lost in manufacturing. Still, the consensus was that once companies found that they could be as productive with fewer employees, they had little incentive to hire new workers, dashing many laid-off workers’ hopes of ever regaining their old jobs. The economists agree that the situation is not likely