According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate (without work and seeking jobs) for Black people rose 0.3 percent from June to July of this year to an astronomical 16.8 percent.
In March of this year, the same number was at 15.5%, so in a period of four months, Black unemployment has risen by 1.3%. White unemployment which was at 7.9 percent in March of 2011 is now at 8.2, a mere 0.3 percent increase. Asian unemployment was reported at 7.7% for July 2011 and Hispanic unemployment was at 11.3% in July, the same as in March of 2011.
Now before anyone says why are you “playing the race card” — or “”if you take race off the table” or “we’re ALL suffering from the bad economy” — clearly there is a racial element and glaring disparity to these numbers. African Americans are the ONLY group whose unemployment numbers have risen an astounding 9.2% in a four month period. At this growth rate by November of 2012, the unemployment rate for Black people could easily be close to 21-22%. Mind you that this number only counts people actively seeking employment. It does not include those who are “under”-employed (they want fulltime work but have to accept part time jobs). Nor does it include “discouraged workers“ (they have given up looking for work because they believe there are no jobs available for them), and finally it does not count those “marginally attached” (wanted and were available for work, had looked in the past 12 months, but not in the past 4 weeks).
Relative to their share of the population, African Americans are also over-represented in both the discouraged workers and marginally attached categories. Some including Dr. Claud Anderson of the Harvest Institute estimate the real Black unemployment rate to be above 40%.
But why is the unemployment rate for black people so much higher than the national average of 9.1 percent?
Chonie Sharper, CEO of Sharper Wealth Management, says that the issue may be academic and not strictly economic.
“In order to get a job, you must acquire an education and/or possess marketable skills. In our communities, we tend to lack both,” said Sharper. “Without education and/or marketable skills, it is difficult to find a job even in times of economic expansion or peaks,” she continued.
Sharper has a point. According to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics the drop-out rate for African-Americans in 2007-08 was a healthy 6.7 percent compared to 2.8 percent for white students.
She also states that young Black Americans should look toward alternative career paths for future job opportunities.
“Teenagers should look into unconventional career paths in fields such as Science, Math & Technology. There are a significant amount of high paying jobs in these fields that companies are unable to fulfill because of a major lack of students and other professionals with an education in these fields so these jobs get outsourced to other countries that do focus on these subjects in school,” says Sharper.
With regard to what the Black community can do to recover from the recession, Sharper believes that being financially prudent and learning how to properly manage money will pay off in the long run.
To find more information regarding the recently released employment numbers please visit the United States Department of Labor.