A recent study indicates that of the major ethnic groups impacted by unemployment during the current U.S. recession, Black men have experienced the greatest job losses since the crisis officially began in November 2007.
"What's missing from national media coverage of this recession is plainly a great deal of [honesty] about who's losing their jobs. This is overwhelmingly a blue-collar, retail sales, low-level recession," said Andrew Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., which published the study.
"The Impacts of the 2007-2009 National Recession on Male Employment in the U.S. through January 2009; The Massive Concentration of Job Losses Among Males Especially Black Men and Blue Collar Workers" tracked employment losses in the recession across gender groups of workers overall, and in the four major ethnicities— Asian, Black, Hispanic and White. Thestudy found that:
• Males are 80 percent (3.1 million) of all people who have lost their jobs in America;
• Black male unemployment rose by 6.4 percent. Between 2007 and January 2009, 482,000 Black men lost their jobs;
• The unemployment gap between Black men and women is historically unprecedented, with Blacks the only group where the gap favors women. This gap stems from differences in job types and fields, such as health care, education, social services - and wellpaying jobs, which are saturated with women.
If you are a Black man working in trucking, manufacturing, construction or warehousing, you are getting clobbered, the document's lead author said. Through Febru- ary 2009, Black men who were employed a month before the recession started have lost their jobs at a rate five times greater than everybody combined.
"Here we are as a country that was priding itself on the fact that it elected a Black American president of the United States, and rightfully so. At the same time, this is the greatest recession loss of jobs by Black men since the end of World War II. Thishas never happened before, yet nobody on national TV has stood up and said this recession has been catastrophic for Black men," Sum said.
Entrepreneurship is way out
"This means we're in trouble," said Lavar Young, director of the Newark (N.J.) Comprehensive Center for Fathers, which helps men transition who have lost their jobs, homes, or are re-entering the work force after incarceration. Known as the Fatherhood Center, it provides mentoring, life skills, legal assistance, education and counseling classes.
According to Young, self-help and entrepreneurship is a sure route out of joblessness for Black men. "It's a low-cost investment and many times a high reward. In Newark, we have a thriving market when it comes to folks selling things, especially when stores are going up on their prices. We just encourage the men who attend our programs to turn their skills when they were out doing negative things into something positive," he told TheFinal Call.
For instance, he added, "One of our guys came to class selling socks for $4-$5 a pack. It won't ease all your pains and it's not a lot of money, but it will help you over that hump," at least through about six to eight months of training for a new skill.
Implications for stimulus
According to the study, the demographics of job loss in the U.S. have important implications for the design and implementation of the programs to be funded under the economic stimulus package and work force development policies at the national, state and local levels.
For Sum, one way to reduce joblessness is to try to get all of the stimulus money distributed as soon as possible to get people back to work, and specifically target projects toward infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation and training money for youth jobs.
In addition, the Obama administration, and recipients of stimulus funds must guarantee public postings of all job openings generated by federal stimulus dollars on web sites of one-stop centers.
'Do for self'
Cedric Muhammad, CEO of CM Cap and the Eclectic Economist Blog at www.cedricmuhammad. com, also advocates self-help to reduce unemployment among Black men. He believes that finding a niche and doing something for themselves is critically important for Black men because they practically have no other option.
"In some states they must employ themselves in cases where they have felony convictions, and are not able to obtain jobs in certain professions and industries. Those jobs where they may qualify for employment - construction or manufacturing for instance - are disappearing rapidly," he said.
Whenever Black men can, they should pool their financial resources because what a struggling individual cannot do, a struggling group can do, whether it is friend-to-friend, family-tofamily, or neighbor-to-neighbor, Muhammad continued. This can apply from so-called gangs to fraternities.
Algernon Austin, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy for the Economic Policy Institute, argued that looking at the unemployment rate does not capture the true picture of joblessness. For example, he said, the numbers are suppressed by various factors, such as the high Black male incarceration rate.
His goal is to get Black men and other disadvantaged racial minorities incorporated into the mainstream economy through programs and investments, and to promote success of small Blackowned businesses to help men overcome obstacles to hiring.
But solving the problem of putting Black men to work requires a sincere, national commitment on various levels. The government has to help invest in and develop Black communities, address discrimination in the labor market, address educational disadvantages, and be sure job creation reaches the Black community, Austin said. "The good news is that people are highly adaptable and the Black family has already transformed itself significantly," he added.
Abdul Muhammad, a lead instructor at the Fatherhood Center, told TheFinal Call that people should be concerned about the joblessness among Black men because it lends to the large number of single Black mothers who are head of households.
"Black men suffer the worst when it comes to health and nutrition and they're the first fired and last hired ... with our national program. What I'm finding outside of Newark is that Black men in all these cities are going through the same issues, which is the lack of employment, financial empowerment, and not being able to provide for themselves and live a conducive lifestyle," he said.
As a result, Abdul Muhammad continued, the men feel frustrated and denigrated to a point where they give up, and children suffer when a man, unable to provide for his family, turns away from being a responsible parent.
NOI program works
Ultimately, Abdul Muhammad said, society must allow Black men to become engaged through civic participation and economic opportunity.
Otherwise, it will continue to produce anger, animosity and the horrific numbers of Black men entering the prison system, advocates warn.
"I can speak personally for myself because as most of these guys that enter our organization or Black men in general, I've sat where they're sitting because I've done time in state prison myself. I understand their pain and their frustration but I was just thankful and blessed due to the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad (of the Nation of Islam) to have the opportunity to learn how to utilize the self-improvement program that he and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan have provided for us as a people," Abdul Muhammad said.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Black Male Unemployment Rates Highest Since WW II
Black male unemployment highest since WWII