How the Recession Can Ruin Black Communities

African-American communities will be troubled for months.

Posted: 04/29/2011 03:50 PM EDT
Filed Under Economy

Of course you know that, with the American economy still flagging, unemployment remains an issue on the minds of most people. You probably also know that African-Americans are especially suffering, with unemployment rates far greater than that of the general population—9.2 percent. Until recently however, most people didn’t know just how bad it was for Blacks.


A new report says the Black unemployment rate is at depression rates in some places, with 15.5 percent of African-Americans unable to find work. That statistic is bad enough on its own, but it becomes downright unbearable when you find out that the white unemployment rate is at 7.9 percent, almost half that of Blacks. Further, while only 12 percent of the United States is Black, working-age Blacks make up more than a fifth of the nation’s unemployed. And in Detroit, which has been hit extremely hard by the recession, Black unemployment is at nearly 26 percent. White unemployment? 11 percent.


And it’s not just the uneducated who are suffering, say experts. “Over the course of the recession, the unemployment disparity between college educated Blacks and whites actually widened,” Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, told the Huffington Post. “If Black workers who are the most prepared to compete and work in the new economy can’t find jobs, that’s something that we as a country have to take seriously.”


What’s especially frightening about this study is that long-term unemployment has been shown to prevent people from finding jobs, as employers feel they’ve been out of the labor force too long to be productive. This creates long-term poverty, which then leads to violence, drugs, and poor education.


Unfortunately, the cycle continues.




(Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)