Blacks Remain At Highest Unemployment Rate In The Country

Persistently high black unemployment remains a problem here in the United States, as the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that African Americans have an unemployment rate of 16.5 percent, compared to 9 percent for white Americans. This rate remains the same as last month, even though the economy created 290,000 jobs during the month of April.

White unemployment rose slightly from last month’s rate of 8.8 percent, but black unemployment is still over 80 percent higher than that of White Americans.
Black women saw their unemployment number rise to 13.7 percent from 12.4 percent last month. This number is 85 percent higher than the unemployment rate for white women, which is at 7.4 percent. Black males are at the bottom of the barrel, with an unemployment rate of 18 percent, which is 95 percent higher than that for white men.

Black teen unemployment also continues to be a problem. African American teenagers saw their unemployment rate drop from 41.1 percent to 37.3 percent. But this number is 58 percent higher than a white teen unemployment rate of 23.5 percent.

Some argue that President Obama and Congress must do something to help with the black unemployment situation. The Congressional Black Caucus is urging the passage of a $1.5 billion dollar jobs bill to reduce black teen unemployment in order to curb youth violence. Violence among teens tends to increase during the summer months, when kids are out of school.

There are some who argue that persistently high black unemployment is a human rights issue that should be addressed by The United Nations. Monique Morris of the NAACP makes this point, and I have written that I agree with her. The idea that we live in a nation that should accept persistently high black unemployment as a simple fact of life is fundamentally problematic. High black unemployment is a remnant of our nation’s Jim Crow past, and exists in concert with disparities in the criminal justice system, education system and nearly every other indicator of quality of life.

What’s most interesting about this recession is that once it’s over, black unemployment will probably still be in the double digits. We will be expected to be happy after the recovery, since according to President Obama, “The rising tide will have lifted all boats.” But the truth will be that our unemployment rate after the recovery will still be nearly as high or higher than the unemployment rate of whites during the recession. If they are complaining at the top of their lungs about 9 percent unemployment, then we have a right to be just as outspoken.

Black suffering should not be something that we’ve come to expect and accept. We deserve true equality.

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