Friday, July 29, 2011
We know unemployment in America is horrendous. But for African-Americans, this is not the “great recession”: it’s the Great Depression. Black unemployment stands at 16.2% in many U.S. cities.
Take Charlotte, N.C., for example. It is a jewel of the “new South.” The largest financial center outside of New York City, and the location for next year’s Democratic National Convention. It was a city of opportunity for African Americans with a four-year college degree.
According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, in Charlotte, NC, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is a staggering 19.2 percent. When adding in people who have given up looking for jobs, that number far exceeds 20 percent, and according to economists Algernon Austin and William Darity, has effectively mired blacks in a depression.
Take Vanessa Parker. She was an administrative assistant at IBM in Charlotte. She went to night school to better herself, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Parker and her husband saved up enough money to move from a bad neighborhood to a quiet, middle-class street. But instead of moving up in the company, IBM moved out. Now she works at a big-box store for minimum wage.
The Congressional Black Caucus wants President Obama to address the epidemic of worsening black unemployment on his watch. But, so far, the president has resisted the idea of a jobs program specifically targeting African-Americans. His position is Reaganesque, believing a rising tide will lift all boats. But the tide remains out-to-sea as far as job creation goes.
In fact, on the issue of African American community unemployment, President Obama is eerily silent leading some to argue that America’s “first black president” has been a disaster for black Americans.