With the growing troubles of the Eurozone economic crisis, most recently as it pertains to Greece, massive bailouts for Italy and Spain and a recent request for European Central Bank support for more loans for Cyprus, the U.S. economy continues to stall with projections of stagnant growth and perpetual unemployment above 8 percent. Now, with major banks being downgraded across the nation, it is clear again that blacks will bear the brunt of the economic downturn.
Historically, blacks always suffer disproportionately in times of economic hardship. Today it may be even worse than past decades, in particular in urban areas. According to a new study conducted by Dr. James Parrott, chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute, more than half of all African Americans in New York City who were old enough to work had no job at all in the past year based on an analysis of employment data compiled by the Federal Labor Department.
Dr. Parrott’s results indicate that 49.2 percent of all black women of working age in the city had jobs in the year that ended in May — a figure approximately equal to the rate for black men in the same period, as well as in the first four months of 2012.
New York is just a microcosm of the nation. The real unemployment (including those who have dropped out of the job market or are in college full time) for African Americans is in excess of 40 percent in urban areas including Memphis, Detroit, Chicago and Detroit among others.
Many factors contribute to these statistics — other than racism — and include: low literacy and graduation rates, lower numbers of African Americans attending college, and very few blacks involved or interested in math and science, which is where most employment opportunities currently exist. Regardless, if the trend continues, 50 percent unemployment in urban areas for African Americans may become the norm.
–torrance stephens, ph.d.