Commentary: A Double Whammy for the Black Unemployed

Commentary: A Double Whammy for the Black Unemployed

With Black joblessness persisting, a new study shows that the long-term unemployed—a category that is disproportionately Black—are even less likely to be hired.

Published December 27, 2011

The Black unemployment crisis continues to fester. While the national jobless rate dropped in November, African-American unemployment actually increased; it’s now at 15.5 percent. Black veterans are finding it hard to get work when they come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and even the Sun Belt, once a place of great economic opportunity for African-Americans, has been flailing amid the devastations of the recession.

In a word, things have been awful for Blacks in the labor market, who have been losing jobs at disproportionately high rates since the start of the economic slowdown. And new research shows Blacks are also suffering more when it comes to staying unemployed.

According to a new NPR survey, “Blacks make up about 10 percent of the full-time working population but 27 percent of the long-term unemployed—that is, those who haven't had a full-time job for a year or more. And unlike whites, Blacks are more likely to be without a job at all.”

With long-term unemployment comes a set of issues that exacerbate joblessness: Not only are the long-term jobless eventually disqualified for unemployment insurance, they’re also less likely to be able to find work when people are hiring.

Though it may sound insane, a sad reality about the American job market is that the longer a person goes without a job, the less likely employers are to want to hire them. This means that Blacks who have been out of work for a while not only face racial discrimination when applying for jobs, but also discrimination based on their length of unemployment.

Every now and again people lucky enough to have work like to complain about the jobless, saying, “They’re just not trying hard enough. It’s easy to find a job if you just try.” While there are almost certainly some people who are jobless because of lack of effort, most of the unemployed simply face brutal barriers when they attempt to get back on their feet. And, as many studies show, it so happens that jobless Blacks face more barriers than others.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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