The unemployment rate for black men stands at 17 percent, more than double that of white men. An education gap, criminal records, and racial bias all contribute to problems in the job market, experts say. What type of intervention would help?
The jobs landscape is bleak for any unemployed American, but for black men it's virtually a desert.
For them, the Great Recession not only led to the largest increase in unemployment for any category of American worker, but it also is pinching a lot longer. About 1 in 6 black men over age 20 in the labor force is jobless – and that number has barely improved since the economic recovery officially began two years ago.
In Detroit, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and several other US cities, Depression-era unemployment rates above 20 percent beset the black community, estimates one economic policy group, citing government data. Moreover, the problem may get worse because city governments, which traditionally employ many African-American men, are laying off workers to cope with budget shortfalls, say experts on black employment.
The change has been dramatic. The jobless rate, 7.5 percent in prerecession days, is now 17 percent – more than double the rate for white men. The ramifications are dramatic: a slide out of the middle class; greater dependence on public assistance; new strain on families, including the challenge of meeting mortgage or child-support payments; and more homelessness.
Page 1 of 8