Community Engagement Committee - Fairfax County, VA
Black Unemployment: Answers to the Unspoken Problem

Leah Durant, Black Engagement Chair: Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 3:34 PM

Leah_Durant-largeJobs in America remain hard to come by. That’s especially true in Black America.

More than twice as many African-American men are unemployed as white men — 11.1 percent versus 4.8 percent.[1] More than ten percent of African-American women are jobless — again, nearly double the 4.9 percent of white women without jobs.[2]

When President Obama took office as the nation’s first African-American president, the ratio of black-white unemployment was at its lowest level in decades. Under his economic stewardship, however, the fate of black America has taken a turn for the worse.

Unfortunately, that won’t change until the president gets rid of the regulatory red tape and suffocating legislation that shackle the economy.

The chronic unemployment afflicting black America is especially worrisome because its effects can fester for years after a recovery takes hold. The longer workers are without regular employment, the harder it is for them to get back into the labor force. Sustained joblessness can lead to breakdowns in the family and crime.

Blacks know this better than anyone else. Research on hiring patterns conducted in 2010 professors from the University of Connecticut and the University of California, suggests that African-American workers with relatively short periods of idleness are among those most likely to be hired when the economy picks up again.[3] African-American workers with long gaps on their resumes are the last to be taken on. Historically, many black Americans have responded to economic headwinds by taking matters into their own hands and starting their own businesses. While black workers generally have fewer years of formal education, they tend to be entrepreneurial. Young African-Americans are on a proportionate basis twice as likely to create new businesses.

But wrongheaded policies and overregulation have resulted in a war on entrepreneurs, and many of the president’s policies, such as Obamacare, are chief among them. In addition to driving up the cost of basic insurance policies, the increased cost of health care often deprives entrepreneurs, both black and white, of the funds they need to grow businesses or hire additional employees.

As recently as 2011, unemployment rates among African-Americans in seven U.S. states ran over 20 percent.[4] Including discouraged workers in that total increases joblessness in those states to Depression-era levels.

These dire economic straits have come about on President Obama’s watch. Expanding the size of government with the likes of policies like Obamacare has only made matters worse. Sadly, the job prospects for working America will not improve until the federal government plays a less prominent role in the economy.

[1]  [2] Id. [3] [4] States having black unemployment rates averaging higher than 20% during 2011 were Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. See:

Posted on August 26th, 2014

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