Despite the slow pace of job creation, it has been announced in recent weeks that unemployment is creeping downward. Since December, we have observed a sizable decrease in the overall unemployment rate. However, it is growing dramatically, especially among African American teens.
The Department of Labor figures indicate the overall teen jobless rate for ages 16-19 for April was 23 percent, a figure almost three times that of the national unemployment average. However, minority teens, in particular African Americans, continue to bear the burden of the unemployed and are far more likely to be unemployed.
In Illinois, for example, state statistics show that black teenagers are more likely to be without a job and that the unemployment rate for white youths is 24.7 percent, but it’s nearly double for black teenagers at 47.7 percent. In addition, data indicates that 11.7 percent of black teenagers are employed compared to 30 percent for white teenagers and 26 percent for Hispanic teenagers.
Some economists would assert that these numbers indicate a major improvement. In November 2009, the unemployment rate among black Americans aged 16 to 19 hit 49.4 percent, up significantly from 41.3 percent the prior month. The historic record for black teen unemployment, according to Department of Labor Statistics, came in August 1983 when the rate hit 52.1 percent.
What is obvious is that there are very few jobs for African Americans across the board regardless of age and gender, although it is continuously asserted by the Obama administration that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery.”
True, the unemployment rate is often considered a “lagging indicator” of economic health. The problem is that special segments of the total universe of unemployed in America are African Americans. –torrance t. stephens, phd.