News / USA

Weak Job Market Hits African Americans Hard

The nation's high unemployment rate has hit minority groups in the United States especially hard. Black unemployment is the highest it has been in 27 years
The nation's high unemployment rate has hit minority groups in the United States especially hard. Black unemployment is the highest it has been in 27 years
TEXT SIZE - +

President Barack Obama is proposing several measures his administration says will create millions of jobs and stimulate the sluggish economy.   The nation's high unemployment rate has hit minority groups in the United States especially hard.  Nearly three-million African Americans are having a hard time finding work after several years of massive job losses. 

Long lines at corporate job hiring fairs illustrate just how many Americans are looking for work.  The situation is especially dire for African Americans.  David Baker is looking for work in the banking industry in Los Angeles. "I have applied for, I would have to say, pretty close to over 300 jobs in the last year," he said.

The U.S. Labor Department says the nation's unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9. 1 percent.  But the jobless figure for African Americans is nearly double, at 16.7 percent, the highest its been since 1984.   



Economist Heidi Shierholz is with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington "So what we are seeing now with the black unemployment rate is actually what we would expect given the overall state of weakness in the labor market.  What we are experiencing here is just a profound lack of jobs across the board and that hits racial and ethnic minorities harder,"  Shierholz said.

Some African Americans job-seekers say even in sectors that are hiring, like healthcare, the competition is fierce.

"While I was in school I thought it would have been easier.  I said to myself as soon as I get out I will get a job because there is such a shortage of nurses all over.  But it has been difficult, since December I have been looking for work," said one job seeker.

President Barack Obama says high unemployment is holding down economic growth.   He is asking lawmakers to approve a series of measures his administration believes will create jobs. "Our economy has to grow faster.   We have to create more jobs and we have to do it faster," Obama said.

Analysts say there is also political pressure on Obama from African Americans supporters to fight for those hit hardest by the economic downturn.  Marc Morial is president of the National Urban League. "If he [President Obama] recommends a bold and imaginative jobs plan there will be those on the far right [Conservative Republicans] who howl in disagreement.  But there will be those in Americas urban communities in Americas rural communities the weak, the disadvantaged, that will cheer we need a jobs plan," Morial stated.

One program the Obama Administration wants to invest in targets assistance for the long-term unemployed.  

Jacklyn Willis has been out of work for six months.  Now she is in a program that gives unemployed workers eight weeks of training at selected companies at no cost to the employer. "It is a win, win scenario.  I decided that if I could go somewhere and volunteer for a while to see if it is a fit for me, and they [the company] get to see if it is a fit for them, then there is nothing to lose," Willis noted.

The plan has already shown results in states like Georgia where nearly a quarter of workers in the program were hired by the company at which they trained.  Sixty percent of those in the program found work elsewhere.

Shierholz says direct government hiring programs are needed in African-American and other minority communities. "The key thing in a program like that is that the decisions about where that money would be best employed would be up to local leaders.  And there would be some strings attached along the lines of a certain percentage of this stimulus money has to be spent on wages and those projects would be labor intensive," she said.

Economists say high unemployment especially for African Americans could remain high for several years.  Community leaders are hopeful that some type of government plan can provide faster relief for millions looking for work now.  





You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid