Saturday, March 07, 2009

6513: Hard Times Harder For Blacks.

From The Chicago Sun-Times…

Unemployment numbers far worse for blacks
Report | They rarely see jobless rate as low as 8.1%

By Cheryl V. Jackson

February’s higher-than-anticipated U.S. jobless rate of 8.1 percent shook America on Friday morning. It was a stat not seen since December 1983—except in black America, which has had rates above 8.1 percent for all but six months since 2001.

“Unfortunately, the black unemployment rate is typically about twice the white unemployment rate,” said Algernon Austin, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute’s Race, Ethnicity and Economy Program.

“In recessions, you typically see a black unemployment rate increase significantly.”

About 851,000 jobs were lost in February. January’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. About 4.4 million jobs have been cut since the recession began in December 2007.

Blacks are particularly impacted by recessions. They commonly trail other groups in employment, impacted by discrimination in the labor market, as well as differences in education, career selection and length of time on the job, Austin said.

“It’s fairly rare for blacks to have unemployment rates less than what it is now for the country as a whole,” he said.

In Illinois, black unemployment has been in double digits since 1999. The highest state unemployment rate during that period was 6.7 percent overall, 5.7 percent for whites and 13.1 percent for blacks, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The 2008 rates were 6.5 percent, 5.7 percent and 12.1 percent.

Hispanics have had the highest percentage-point increase in unemployment since the beginning of the recession, disproportionately working in the housing construction market that tanked.

Blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented in sectors that have taken the hardest hits in the recession—construction and manufacturing.

Employment in professional and business services fell by 180,000 last month; manufacturing lost 168,000 positions; the durable goods industry, 132,000; construction, 104,000, and the temporary industry, 78,000.

The health care industry gained about 27,000 jobs.

And while their parents are having a rough go of it finding employment, it’s doubly hard for teenage blacks. Their unemployment rate is 38.8 percent, but more likely about 44 percent when accounting for teens who have given up looking for work, Austin said.

That could be troublesome when those teens later try to move into the work force as primary breadwinners, he said.

“We really want teens to work. Getting job experience now really helps people in their employment.”

“The really sad and troubling part of this is most likely these aren’t the peak numbers,” he said. “The peak will come in about a year from now, unless the stimulus comes in and works.”

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