Black Unemployment Still High Despite Rate Decrease - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

NEWS_Summit3While the unemployment rate seems to be taking a slight turn for the better, in the African American community joblessness is still a problem.

The jobless rate for African Americans decreased slightly from 15.7% to 15.6%, but it increased for certain categories of blacks, including among men and youth, according to the November employment report released by the Labor Department Friday.  The total unemployment rate slowed to 10%, down from 10.2% in October.

“The good news is that nearly all groups have slight declines in unemployment, however the unemployment rate for black males went from 18.2 to 18.8%,” says Algernon Austin, director of the program on race, ethnicity, and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute. “That just underscores the difficulty that black males experience in the labor market generally and during this recession in particular. Even in good times many blacks in many communities have a difficult time finding work.”

President Barack Obama noted at the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth Thursday, that although his plan has taken a lot of criticism, some 1.6 million jobs have been created from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and job losses have diminished as well. Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor agreed, stating Friday that the economy is growing “faster than at any time” in the last two years. In fact, although black unemployment is high, the unemployment ratio of blacks relative to whites is 1.67 to 1, a decrease from its normal level of 2 to 1.

“Since President Obama has taken office, the unemployment rate for African Americans, relative to whites, has remained at historically low levels,” said assistant labor secretary William Spriggs, a member of the BE Board of Economists. “More importantly, our figures today show that the share of African Americans who are employed has increased, but we will continue to provide training opportunities that will lead to more and better jobs in the near future..”

Still, unemployment among black teens, aged 16-19 has risen to almost 50%. Austin says that more spending is needed on infrastructure, public service jobs, and jobs programs to put people at work to repair declining black communities, which were hit hard by foreclosures. In addition, he says that the federal government has been creating jobs, but state and local governments have been cutting jobs.

“The Department of Labor is committed to expanding opportunities for all working Americans–including the nation’s African American community–through our Workforce Investment Act training and other programs,” said Solis.

The EPI’s Austin agreed.

“Our economic situation would be much worse if we didn’t have the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” says Austin. “Although the recovery package has produced jobs, it was just not large enough to cope with the scale of the job losses that we have experienced.”

White House Forum Seeks Strategies to Put America Back to Work

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.