Unemployment Among African-American Men is at 34.5%

Unemployment among the nation’s African-American young in is at a record shattering 34.5% for men ages 16-34. The highest level of joblessness in over 75 years. The unemployment rate is more than three times the general population in this  age bracket.

Meet Delonte Sprigg 24, of Washington,D.C. and he is  face of the unemployment crisis. He was an office furniture mover until he was laid off in 2008.  Sprigg has gone through a job training program in construction. After completing the program, he had a temporary job as a flagman on a construction crew that lasted three days.

“I think we’re labeled for not wanting to do nothing — knuckleheads or hardheads,” said Spriggs, whose first name is pronounced Dee-lon-tay. “But all of us ain’t bad.”

The retail, construction, and  manufacturing business are the industry that    young people would normally enter as a first or second job. This industries were hardest hit.

Usually the last hired and the first fired; young people have been hit the  hardest. Employers have eliminated internship, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training program in ways to save money. What’s complicating the  job situation older workers taken these entry-level jobs that  would go to young people.

The Unemployment rate for young African-Americans is a record-breaking 30.5. Many these young people live in poor urban communities, attend and/or graduate from below  level public schools.  Some believe that race plays a factor.Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, says race play more of  a factor in hiring age, income and education levels.

“Black men were less likely to receive a call back or job offer than equally qualified white men,” said Devah Pager, a sociology professor at Princeton University, referring to her studies a few years ago of white and black male job applicants in their 20s in Milwaukee and New York. “Black men with a clean record fare no better than white men just released from prison.”

Meet  Victoria Kirby, 22 and recent college graduate from Howard University she too has found the job market tough too. Last Summer Kirby was an intern at a Washington,DC area publishing firm. She was offered an entry-level position at publishing company when she graduated in May 2009.  Before she could even chance to  start the job offer was withdrawn because of the bad economy.

This summer  she has applied for  jobs as an administrative assistant on Capitol Hill but she was told that she overqualified. Kirby applied for Teach for America but she was rejected due the overwhelming number of applicants.

Kirby, went back to school for get a  master of  public policy at Howard.  “I decided to stay in school two more years and wait out the recession,” Kirby said.

The Obama Administration is between a rock and hard place. Spending billions to create jobs and not adding to the $1.4 trillion deficit. Policy analyst like Algernon Austin, a sociologist and director of the race, ethnicity and economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, which studies issues involving low- and middle-income wage earners.

Austin says  more need to be done for underemployed works with lack a steady work history nor a high school diploma nor job-readiness skills or a squeaky-clean  record.

“Increased involvement in the underground economy, criminal activity, increased poverty, homelessness and teen pregnancy are the things I worry about if we continue to see more years of high unemployment,” said Austin.

Washington,D.C. tried to do about it Mayor Adrian Fenty Administration  took $3.4 million in Federal Stimulus money for 500 young people between 18 to 24 year olds.

“I thought after I finished the [training] program, I’d be working. I only had three jobs with the union and only one of them was longer than a week,” Spriggs, a tall slender man wearing a black Nationals cap, said one afternoon while sitting at the table in the living room/dining room in his mother’s apartment. “It has you wanting to go out and find other ways to make money. . . . [Lack of jobs is why] people go out hustling and doing what they can to get by.”

“Give me a chance to show that I can work. Just give me a chance,” added Spriggs, who is on probation for drug possession. “I don’t want to think negative. I know the economy is slow. You got to crawl before you walk. I got to be patient. My biggest problem [which prompted the effort to sell drugs] is not being patient.”

Young people were the hardest hit with 19.1% unemployment among the nations 16-24 year old. This generation is facing the prospect of not doing better than their parents in standard of living.

Lisa B. Kahn an economics professor at Yale University. Kahn recalls the 1980’s recession where  young  people took lesser paying jobs and it took nearly a decade to recover the earning.

“In your first job, you’re accumulating skills on how to do the job, learning by doing and getting training. If you graduate in a recession, you’re in a [lesser] job, wasting your time,” she said. “Once you switch into the job you should be in, you don’t have the skills for that job.”

Gee I feel encouraged.

The Washington Post

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