March 16th, 2009
12:29 PM ET

Job losses hit black men hardest

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Patrik Jonsson and Yvonne Zipp
The Christian Science Monitor

At a time when America has elected its first black president, more African-American men are losing jobs than at any time since World War II.

No group has been hit harder by the downturn. Employment among black men has fallen 7.8 percent since November of 2007, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

The trend is intimately tied to education, the report’s authors say. Black women – who are twice as likely as black men to go to college – have faced no net job losses. By contrast, black men are disproportionately employed in those blue-collar jobs that have been most highly affected – think third shifts at rural manufacturing plants.

It threatens to add to the difficulties of vulnerable families in a community already beset by high incarceration rates and low graduation numbers.

Moreover, it puts renewed focus on the cultural and economic stereotypes of black women and men – mythologies and realities about the black family that remain challenging for the country, and Washington, to address.


Filed under: Black in America • Unemployment
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Mike in NYC


    Increasingly, WHITE is the wrong color to be in America. It gets you blamed for everyone else's problems, among other things.

    Given affirmative action, diversity programs, "minority" set-asides, and of course the ever-present threat (and ongoing reality) of discrimination lawsuits, corporate America has bent over backwards for blacks.

    BTW, Obama's color didn't seem to hurt him much. It helped him a great deal, as a matter of fact. And will continue to do so.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Teresa

    :::sigh:::: here we go again.

    I think more toward the bottom of the article is the real cause of black mens job losses: it's the education or lack thereof. It is not this: "still very much a system that really is designed to keep people at a disadvantage" The unemployment is also due to the TYPE of jobs the men are losing.

    The system is more geared to help black male americans than ever.
    The colleges, govt jobs... it's all set up to help the black man. Blacks need to quit using their race as their own EXCUSE for why their dreams are not coming to fruition. There ARE other reasons why high paying jobs arent just handed out to any-who.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  3. sheasu

    I agree that racism doesn't play a part in this situation.It is actually the outcome of racism. When you think about it most African American men were thrown in jails, so when they were released they didn't have any opportunities to obtain a good job.Its a non-ending cycle. By way of contrast, it is the lack of education and the economic crisis that is hurting most African American men. However, why isn't it hurting all Americans not just African American men? The truth is that we only hear on the news about African Americans not obtaining jobs, but we never hear about the other races out here that are hurting by this economic crisis. There has to be other people that is hurting and who needs assist also! It is sad that George Bush put us in a crisis and when we finally elected President Barack Obama who will make a change for the better we are still in a crisis.People expect change to happen over night, but it will not. I'm very proud of President Barack Obama because he is developing plans to help us out of this crisis. We basically need more influential leaders in our community to stand up and teach the young children today to attend college and strive to become the best in their abilities.

    March 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  4. Isabel, Brazil

    Paradoxical ... the position's most important in the country occupied by a black man, while black men suffer more from unemployment.

    In my country is exactly the same thing: black men suffer more from unemployment. Comparatively the wages of whites is higher, the blacks have inferiors conditions of work, outside the situation of inferiority of the black population that is also found in education.

    Despite the release of slaves for over 100 years old (Brazil), the color still influences the work. Sad fact.

    March 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  5. paulernestshow

    Never surprised. The black woman gets a job quicker than the black male because she is found to be less intimidating. Unemployment among black men is a color issue. I am in contact with many black males with college degrees and masters, of all kinds, and yet are forced to take jobs in factories and underpaid, insignificant positions. For over 14 yrs, after college, 30 hours of masters in public administration, service in the U.S army, no company has ever offered me a job paying over $10 per hour. I had to scramble to start a business. Still, many companies do not want to do business with a black company. Race matters in employment. We are just blessed with the wrong color, in America. That's the way it is. Somethings will never change.

    March 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Covell Coleman

    I think this article and many like it ignore socioeconomic factors and zero in color instead. Education is the unifying factor in all of this and because black men don't have a high percentage within our schools in the States, the epidemic continues. It's easy to justify that someone is less useful without a piece of paper from an accredited institution. This is something every color will struggle with. You spend 50,000 dollars and up for some sort of edge in this job market just to find out there aren't any. We're all struggling. It's poverty that finds themselves in a cyclical nightmare. They assume one, two, even three jobs to raise families and their offspring jump right into the workforce to help out. The cycle continues. We need to make education affordable so that the bulk of America can rise up out of obscurity.

    March 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  7. Mike Port Tobacco, Md

    Give me a "BREAK"!

    March 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Larry

    Why not show more than just male african-americans being hit hard by unemployment; what are the numbers for whites, hispanics, asians, native americans, etc.?

    March 16, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  9. wisekandi

    Unfortunately Mike in NYC I agree with you. Instead of "the man" being our obstacle, it is really our lack of education and skill that make us the first to be cut. However, if afforded more opportunities to grow, like a more resourceful and enriching educational system in our poverty stricken communities, we will become less likely to be the first to go. You see, emrichment must begin with the children of these communities because if we get to them while they're young, we'll loose them fast.

    March 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  10. Melissa

    Color doesn't have anything to do with it. Everyone is losing their job everywhere.

    While I fully support equality, I do get tired of the constant "race" cries from certain elements of the population as though they're more important than any other.

    March 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  11. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Unemployment effects "all,"--the color of an individual doesn't play a vairable in one loosing his/her job-–it's return on investments and profits--and the last time I read, the President had a black father and white mother--to me means he is a bi-racial President-–so don't attribute the loss of jobs of black men to only half of his genetic pool-–it effects "all" of us, regardless of color.

    March 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  12. meenas17

    It usually happens. There is a saying , that a teacher's son , does not make a good student. Now , a black man is the President of the nation , and his men have lost jobs. The unemployment rate is high. Obama has to pay attention to this incongurity.

    March 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  13. Mike in NYC

    Black women have faced no net job losses - which means they're actually doing better than whites in this regard - so that eliminates "racism" as the cause. Of course, that didn't stop the authors from doing their best to push that theme. I have yet to read an article on this or related subjects that didn’t.

    The reason for the outsized job losses among black males is that companies are letting their least skilled, least utilized workers go, and spreading their work among those who remain. It happened at my firm. It's one way of cutting costs, which has become a necessity these days.

    March 16, 2009 at 12:58 pm |