Report: Black community still suffering from ‘disproportionately high unemployment rates’

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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A congressional report finds that the economic recovery hasn’t solved problems faced by the black community, including “disproportionately high unemployment rates.”

Blacks account for 12 percent of the labor force, according to the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, but suffered from a 13.8 percent jobless rate in January 2013 and make up 25 percent of workers who have been unemployed for longer than 99 weeks.

Furthermore, the number of black workers looking for work has fallen by almost 300,000 since 2011, and there are nearly 2.6 million black workers who want to work but can’t find a job.

The report also points out that black workers are typically unemployed for about six months, while the typical unemployment spell for all workers is only four months.

“This disparity must be remedied,’ said Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in a statement. “Congress has an obligation to ensure that the economic recovery boosts employment prospects for all Americans.”

Casey also notes that the drop in employment for African-Americans was lower for those with college degrees –only 5.1 percent of black people with bachelor’s degrees were unemployed.

“The drop in the unemployment rate to 5.1 percent for African American workers with a bachelor’s degree underscores the crucial role that education plays in creating opportunity and makes clear the immediate need to improve access to higher education,” said Casey.

However, black workers are still more likely to be unemployed than the general population across all levels of education. Last month, the unemployment rate for black workers without a high school diploma was 25.6 percent, while the overall unemployment rate for those lacking a high school diploma was only 13.9 percent.

“Congress can help ensure that the economic situation of black workers and their families continues to improve by supporting programs that provide assistance to those who are struggling to make ends meet and examining new approaches to alleviating unemployment and poverty,’ reads the report. “Legislators can also act to support minority business owners who create jobs and spur economic growth.”

At the height of the recession, the unemployment rate for black workers was 16.8 percent, and stayed above 13 percent for all of 2012.

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