Politics

White Unemployment Down, But Black Joblessness Up; Which 6 Industries Added the Most Jobs

Thu., Jan. 19, 2012 7:38 AM EST
by Terry Shropshire

There have been six consecutive months where at least 100,000 jobs have been created in this country — but it seems like African Americans got almost none of them.

How else to explain the U.S. Labor Department reporting that a burst of hiring last month knocked down the unemployment rate to the lowest levels in three years, but black joblessness actually rose? Government stats reveal that in excess of 200,000 jobs were added in December of 2011 and that overall unemployment has dropped to 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, black unemployment rose — again — from 15.5 to 15.8 percent and from 39.6 to 42.1 percent for African American teens?

Of course, the number of the unemployed who continue to look for work impacts the overall numbers. “You have to take that unemployment rate decline with a grain of salt when you look at the declines in the labor force,” said Marisa DiNatale, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The work force has declined by about 160,000 over the past two months, one reason the unemployment rate has fallen. A sliver of hope for despondent black job seekers lies in the fact that economists forecast that job gains will top 2.1 million this year.

More jobs and higher pay are crucial to helping the economy grow. They could enable shoppers to increase spending, which fuels 70 percent of economic activity.

Despite their putrid plight and prospects, African Americans continue to cling tightly to the prospects of an Obama reelection. President Obama’s allies and supporters believe this Labor Department report represents a positive sign. Obama is going to have to answer for the moribund marketplace during this year’s presidential elections with the highest unemployment rate of any sitting president since World War II. Unemployment was 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009, just as the economy collapsed down on his head.

The fact that the economy has finally shown signs of true recovery bodes better for the beleaguered and battered Obama presidency. Economists and political pundits said sitting presidents’ chances for reelection rest on economic standings in the year or two prior to Election Day. For all of 2011, the economy added 1.6 million jobs, better than the 940,000 added in 2010. The unemployment rate averaged 8.9 percent last year, down from 9.6 percent the previous year.

Which job sectors experienced the greatest gains? Click below to see:

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