When you read about the unemployment rate in this country, which has been hovering around 10% for a while now, it’s easy to forget that the rate is different depending on where you live in the country, whether you are a man or a woman and whether you are Black, Latino or white.
The Joint Economic Committee released a report this month which found that although “African Americans make up 11.5% of the labor force, they account for 17.8% of the unemployed, 20.3% of those unemployed for more than six months and 22.1% of the workers unemployed for a year or more.”
African Americans are the face of what is known as the chronically unemployed. And while they have been severely impacted by The Great Recession, a report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that within the African American community, high unemployment rates pre-dated the recession.
That report goes on to state that lower educational attainment of Blacks is not the only contributing factor. According to the study, “In the three years before the recession, the unemployment rate for African American’s with bachelor’s degrees was 7.5 percent. This rate was closest to the rate for whites with only a high school diploma, 6.3 percent.”
And according to the National Urban League’s annual report, “The State of Black America,” Latinos “are faring better than Blacks,” though not by much.
The Congressional Black Caucus took up the issue of the chronically unemployed last week, in a hearing called “Out of Work But Not Out of Hope: Addressing the Crisis of the Chronically Unemployed.”
CBC Chair Barbara Lee had this to say about the JEC report:
“While there is no question that all Americans are hurting, today’s report clearly illustrates that racial disparities existed before the recession and those gaps have only grown. Although recent economic data has shown signs of improvement, this study indicates the pace of the recovery has been uneven, with African Americans lagging behind.”
What do you think? Is Congress doing enough? What’s the solution?