African-American Men in New Orleans Face Employment Roadblocks

Employment for Black men in the city has fallen from 63 percent to 48 percent from 1980 to 2011.

Posted: 06/12/2013 09:25 AM EDT

The city of New Orleans has faced many obstacles over the past decade following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the economic recession that challenged the job market nationally.

The city lost almost 47,000 jobs between 1980 and 2004 and this decline has disproportionately affected African-American men, according to a new report by Loyola University.

The blue-collar jobs that employed many Black men in New Orleans have disappeared as the city acquires more construction and manufacturing businesses. This has left Black men, who make up 26 percent of the city's population, unable to work and untapped for jobs that now require education beyond a high school diploma. 

Moreover, African-American men have faced a dip in wages: "...the median earnings of New Orleans’ African American men who work full-time, year-round jobs have fallen 11 percent to $31,018, while New Orleans’ white men have seen their wages rise 9 percent to $60,075," the report states.

The report also lists ways in which these numbers can be turned around. This includes career-pathways programs and integrating academics and hands-on training in high schools and local community colleges. There is also emphasis put on helping formerly incarcerated men find employment in the manufacturing and construction industries in the city.

Loyola University reports:

African-American men in New Orleans represent an underutilized resource for staffing these growing industries. Career pathway programs and community benefit agreements are important strategies for optimizing the human capital of low-skilled African-American men in New Orleans. A dedicated focus on recruiting and building the skills of local African American men to fill the jobs in the regional petrochemical and construction industries can not only help meet employers’ pressing workforce needs, it can also have additional benefits of reducing chronic unemployment, reducing crime rates, and increasing the local tax base. We call that a triple bottom line.

Read full report here

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(Photo: GettyImages)

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