1:00pm September 8, 2010

Why is African American Unemployment Increasing?


The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday that unemployment for African Americans increased to 16.3% in August 2010 from 15.6% in July 2010.  The percentage point increase was greater than it was for Whites and Hispanics.  Overall unemployment climbed to 9.6% for the month of August from the July unemployment rate of 9.5%.

The unemployment rate is defined as that portion of the labor force that is unemployed and actively seeking work.  The labor force is comprised of all people over the age of 16 that are either working for pay or actively seeking work for pay.

So why is unemployment rising? According to the Labor Department, part of the reason for the overall increase in the unemployment rate may be that more people have entered the labor force in reaction to news that the economy is getting better.  This may be the particular case for Black Americans as well.

The other argument is that Americans may not be qualified for the jobs that are currently available, or for the jobs that are expected to open up sometime in the near future.  For example, in a recent interview with CNBC, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated that future employment in infrastructure development and clean energy will require a high skill level, meaning that a number of currently unemployed workers will have to be retrained.

A large number of African Americans have been leaving the labor force over the last two years.  For example, there were approximately 15,953,000 Blacks in the labor force in 2008.  At the end of 2009, however, there were only 15,025,000.  During the same period of time, the percentage of African Americans employed in construction, maintenance, production, and transportation fell.

In 2008, 16.2% of African Americans were employed in production, transportation, or material moving occupations. That percentage fell to 14.3% in 2009.

Also in 2008, the percentage of African Americans employed in natural resources, construction, or maintenance was 6.4%, but this percentage fell to 6.1% in 2009.

On the other hand, the percentage of African Americans in management, professional, and other related occupations increased to 29.2% in 2009 from 27.4% in 2008.  The area of service occupations saw an increase as well, with the percentage of African Americans increasing from 24.4% in 2008 to 25.2% in 2009.

On Labor Day, President Obama made a renewed call in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for infrastructure investment.  Mr. Obama wants Congress to approve a six-year plan for constructing 150,000 miles of roadways; 4,000 miles of rail; and 150 miles of runways. Mr. Obama, realizes that more has to be done to spark the economy.

About the Author

Alton Drew
Alton Drew provides advocacy and consulting services in the areas of economic and personal liberty, broadband, and energy. Follow him on Twitter @altondrew; Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alton.drew.5; or visit him at www.altondrew.com. The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and have complete editorial independence from any Politic365 partners, sponsors, or advertisers. For additional information about Politic365, please visit http://politic365.com/about/.



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  1. Ronald Wesby

    IF Blacks would simply pool our monies we could open up a myrid of businesses and put ourselves and prodigy back to work. Stop working for others create our own fortune 1000.

  2. Ronald Wesby

    We are too busy trying to find a job instead of creating them. Cut grass,Cut hair,Open a Resturant, a bed & breakfast, walk someone's dog, babysit, cater lunch, rent out a room, a mechanic shop, a fruit stand, start a magazine, create and sell your own art.

  3. Cecil Jones

    Why is African American unemployment on the rise? Look around to see exactly what we own. Our representation in ownership lags behind and therefore our ability to hire and create jobs suffers respectfully. As loyalty becomes a greater demand of the employer, that employer seeks to find someone more like themselves. Birds of a feather are “flocking” together and Blacks don’t have a nest.

  4. Denise

    The economic recovery is not for Black people. This country does not now and never did want you. You were brought here for a purpose to pick cotton and take care of your Massa and his children. After years of putting up with you we want you to go the way of the American Indian. When you hear politicians say the "American People" it is a code word for whitel only. Wake up and start to think critically about what America wants you to do.

  5. Trish

    Blacks need to start their own business because the white own business only want a limited number of us to be their pinup puppet. Unless we are extraordinary, most blacks will never amount to anything in a white own business. Most of the decision makers are not us and we are always powerless in Corporate America. It is the modern day slave to our modern day massa.

  6. I bow down humbly in the presence of such gratesnes.

  7. kevin

    We as black people must keep pushing, the day that race will no longer matter is coming soon. With the increased number of interracal child that are being brought into the world; in 20 years from now it will not matter what your race is. Glory to GOD. The Black Man has all ways received the most of the worst, and the least of the best, In general has alway dispised his brother, that's how we entered into slavery.

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