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Job losses hit black men hardest

Some 8 percent of black men in the US have lost their jobs since November 2007, according to a recent study.

Blue-collar blues: Michael Fullbright finishes painting the lines of a church parking lot in San Jose, Calif.

Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor

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At a time when America has elected its first black president, more African-American men are losing jobs than at any time since World War II.

No group has been hit harder by the downturn. Employment among black men has fallen 7.8 percent since November of 2007, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The trend is intimately tied to education, the report’s authors say. Black women – who are twice as likely as black men to go to college – have faced no net job losses. By contrast, black men are disproportionately employed in those blue-collar jobs that have been most highly affected – think third shifts at rural manufacturing plants.

It threatens to add to the difficulties of vulnerable families in a community already beset by high incarceration rates and low graduation numbers.

Moreover, it puts renewed focus on the cultural and economic stereotypes of black women and men – mythologies and realities about the black family that remain challenging for the country, and Washington, to address.

In terms of job-loss rate for African-American men, “nothing comes close to this,” says Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies and an author of the report, noting that the job-loss rate for African-American men during the Great Depression is unknown.

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