African-American joblessness – nearly twice the national rate – is quickly becoming the first showdown between Black leaders and the nation’s first Black president as national Black and civil right leaders raise their voices telling the Obama Administration it’s time to end the jobs crisis in the Black community.
“We’re sending a strong message to the president and Congress that we need to step up. We need immediate jobs – not some time six, eight and 10 months down the road,” National Urban League President Marc Morial said in an interview with the NNPA News Service. “African-American leaders are not just saying do something. We’re offering solutions.”
Morial has sent a letter to the Obama Administration and Congressional Leaders outlining specific recommendations for job creation as President Obama prepares for a job summit this week in the wake of national unemployment numbers that grew into double digits – 10. 2 percent – in October. In his letter, dated Nov. 24, Morial reminds the Administration that the Black community has suffered double digit jobless rates for well more than a year.
“While I applaud the Administration for publicly acknowledging the gravity of our nation’s employment situation, I would add that double-digit unemployment has been a reality for communities of color since last summer – for African Americans since August, 2008, and for Latinos since February, 2009,” he writes. “As President and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream, I have firsthand knowledge of the tremendous obstacles these families have been facing, not just since national unemployment reached 10.2 % in October, but for over a year now.”
That’s great press – but it is a massive oversimplification of the issue. The issue is that there continues to be irrefutable and documented evidence of employment discrimination. Discrimination which is severely impacting that portion of the black population who did the right things, went to college, and developed successful resumes based on accomplishment. This is a continuation, and legacy of the Bushit Justice Department intentionally ignoring cases of real job discrimination, in favor of the racially driven search for “reverse discrimination” which produced the same results as searching for WMDs in Iraq.
But there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.
College-educated black men, especially, have struggled relative to their white counterparts in this downturn, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.
Various academic studies have confirmed that black job seekers have a harder time than whites. A study published several years ago in The American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.
A more recent study, published this year in The Journal of Labor Economics found white, Asian and Hispanic managers tended to hire more whites and fewer blacks than black managers did.
The discrimination is rarely overt, according to interviews with more than two dozen college-educated black job seekers around the country, many of them out of work for months. Instead, those interviewed told subtler stories, referring to surprised looks and offhand comments, interviews that fell apart almost as soon as they began, and the sudden loss of interest from companies after meetings.
So the real issue here – is why hasn’t the Obama Administration put on a full court press on job discrimination?