Wed, 5 August 2009
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen FordThere are no targeted programs to address soaring Black unemployment on the horizon, despite Democratic control of the White House and both houses of Congress. President Obama puts his faith in a “rising tide” that “lifts all boats,” but in the real world “the economic tide is sinking Black boats at two, three and four times the rate of whites.”
Black Jobs Disappearing at Depression-Era Rates
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Obama will preside over a huge increase in permanent Black joblessness.”
President Obama continues to insist that a rising economic tide will “lift all boats.” But what's actually rising is a tidal wave of Black unemployment that in some regions is already at Depression-era levels and promises to add yet another layer of permanently jobless African Americans.
A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the economic tide is sinking Black boats at two, three and four times the rate of whites. Obama's determination to do nothing specifically targeting African American unemployment guarantees he will preside over a huge increase in permanent Black joblessness.
Black national unemployment, which is now posted at 14.7 percent, is expected to rise to 16 percent, compared to 8.6 percent for whites. Black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites for so long – at least two generations – economists and media call the disparity “traditional,” like apple pie and the 4th of July. Embedded in that statistic is the permanent instability of Blacks in the job market. Each time there is another wave of higher unemployment, larger numbers of those whose jobs were already unstable, drown. Another strata of the permanently jobless is left behind, a social crime that cries out to be undone. But that would require programs targeted to the places and people that have been most harmed by economic dislocations. By the logic of the numbers, that means Black people, most intensely. But President Obama will have none of that. He is ideologically committed to a race-neutrality that, in the job market, can only result in a steady expansion of chronic Black employment instability and permanent joblessness.
“Blacks have lost ground in every job category.”
As disturbing as the national employment figures are, they don't convey the true scope of the deep and enduring Black jobs crisis. One out of every four Blacks in Michigan will be officially unemployed by the summer of next year. In Ohio and Alabama, one in five African Americans will officially be out of work. South Carolina and North Carolina will be right behind, nearing 20 percent official Black unemployment. In New York City and Washington, DC, official Black unemployment is an astronomical four times the rate for whites. I refer to the “officially” unemployed, because whole categories of workers slip off the U.S. Labor Department's jobless list every month, while the structurally or permanently unemployed are treated as if they do not exist.
The current economic crisis has resulted in an across-the-board employment disaster for Blacks, who have lost ground in every job category: manufacturing, wholesale and retail commerce, transportation, utilities, finance, insurance, real estate – the catastrophe is near universal. The Economic Policy Institute report recommends that the nation “devote extra resources to those states and groups that are hardest hit.” But Obama has already said no, and Black mass organizations seem more interested in coming to the first Black president's defense than in banging at the door of the White House, demanding relief for the people.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.