Monday, July 18, 2011

Focus on Race & Ethnicity: "The 60 YEAR unemployment scandal"

"The 11th Street Bridge arches over the slow-flowing Anacostia River, connecting the poverty-stricken, largely black Anacostia neighborhood with the rest of the District. By foot the distance is small; in opportunity and wealth, it couldn't be larger. At one end of the bridge the economy is booming even amid a halting recovery and jobs crisis. At the other end, hard times, always present, are worse than ever".

The focus is Washington, DC and the lack of jobs for African Americans. It is said "that Since the 1940s, the jobless rate for blacks in America has held remarkably, if grimly, steady at twice the rate for whites". Andy Kroll - the writer of this article - gives us facts in order to prove his point. Another ratio he shares with the public is, "Nationwide, the unemployment rate for black workers at 16.2% is almost double the 9.1% rate for the rest of the population. And it's twice the 8% white jobless rate". The goal of this article is to bring to the media's attention a subject that is suppressed, and so factual information is key to proving a point. This is said to be a "generational" issue, and not one that has just occurred to due the past years of a bad economy.

When taking into consideration the reasons for this difference in African American unemployment and white people unemployment one clause was this: "as corporations outsourced jobs to China and India, American manufacturing began its slow fade, shedding jobs often held by black workers. What jobs remained were moved to sprawling offices and factories in outlying suburbs reachable only by freeway". Although this may account for some of the separation in numbers it has been decided that it is not the full reason. A second reason is education. However, this article states, "steadily climbed over the past 60 years for African Americans". Kroll concludes that many researchers have tried to come up with a plausible explanation, but none of the prevail to this day. (See article for the full list)

Behind Bars, the Invisible Unemployed is a subtitle of this article, and it states that it is due to the high incarceration rate that African American men are unable to break the unemployment cycle. It is often ignored by politicians, the judicial system, and as a result the public that after Americans had done their time in jail, or courts it became harder to find work. However, it is the African Americam people who have criminal records who have even less chance at finding jobs than those of white people with the same records. This is proven through an experiment, and you can read more about it in the article.

At the end of the article Kroll gives us an example of when the unemployment gap between white American's and black American's was smaller, and that was in the 1970's. Today in Washington, Kroll tell us that the question remains on how we can close the gap between jobless whites and blacks. What we do know is what will not work which is, "relying on discrimination watchdogs to crack down more often. The way federal anti-discrimination law works, it's up to the person who was discriminated against to raise an alarm". These facts are key to changing the way in which the hiring process happens, and in order to change the state of black American unemployment rates. However, it does make sense when Kroll states that because people are uninformed it will be more difficult to change.



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