April 14th, 2009
10:38 AM ET

Can Black men survive falling U.S. economy?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/01/job.fair.turnout/art.dodger.stadium.apps.cnn.jpg]
Charlene Muhammad
New America Media

A recent study indicates that of the major ethnic groups impacted by unemployment during the current U.S. recession, Black men have experienced the greatest job losses since the crisis officially began in November 2007.

“What's missing from national media coverage of this recession is plainly a great deal of dishonesty about who's losing their jobs. This is overwhelmingly a blue collar, retail sales, low level recession,” said Andrew Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., which published the study.

“The Impacts of the 2007-2009 National Recession on Male Employment in the U.S. through January 2009; The Massive Concentration of Job Losses Among Males Especially Black Men and Blue Collar Workers” tracked employment losses in the recession across gender groups of workers overall, and in the four major ethnicities—Asian, Black, Hispanic and White.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Black in America • Economy
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Jill

    It is easier to be ignorant and run around spewing hateful, racist theories than it is to see the truth.

    April 14, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  2. Jill

    How can people still be so blind to the institutionalized racism of America. Its called marginalization, and to be more specific its the most dangerous type of marginalization: advanced marginalization. And while on the surface it may seem that marginalized individuals have been given opportunities to integrate, these opportunities have been limited. Even if they hadn't been, how can an individual take advantage of these opportunities when they aren't given the basic skills? A generation ago laws were used to put us in ghettos and under funded schools. How can someone think about getting ahead when their main thought process has to be focused on survival? On top of that is the mental oppression that African Americans have faced for centuries. Much of the success of the early United States was contingent upon racist ideologies, and just because slaves were no longer needed and were traded for workers that could be paid despicably low wages does not mean that those racist ideologies didn't persist. There is much more to to the state and mindset of African Americans in today's society than just "a feeling of entitlement." It guess it's easier to be ignorant.

    April 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  3. lindas

    Of course Black men can survive a falling economy. They've had to live with that existence most of their lives because most companies won't hire them simply because they are black. Most company personnel have determined black men are lazy, intimidating, uneducated, and hard to communicate with. All this, without proof, just to create an image of a person that no one wants to hire or work with, because of long standing deep seated racism that is passed on from generation to generation. It is easier for a white employer to think that way and go with the racist status quo than be a bigger person and rise above that garbage and hire a black man simply because he's qualified to do the job. It is amazing to me that a person can live with him/herself knowing he/she is saying or doing something that hurts another person and they really have no knowledge of the person to begin with. The last hired first fired idea doesn't even apply because even if the Black man was not the last hired, he would still be the first fired in a round of layoffs. Why? Because he's not viewed as a person of any real value to the company. His survival is not as important as the white person who is the last hired and has no job experience.

    April 14, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  4. mlh2080 chicago south

    black people arent the ones putting black murderers,convicts,drug dealers on tv all day everyday 4 the black kids to idolize.i want people to come to sum of these inner city schools and tell me if they think there children would succeed in those situatons.they have substitutes teaching classes all year long,no books,no heat or air conditioning,most of them dont hardly eat.when u are a child n u have to focus on now getting shot walking to the library and putting food on the plate for your family school is in the back of your mind.

    April 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  5. It's not race

    From 2003 census report:
    Bachelor degrees by race – Asians 49.3%, Whites 29.7%, Blacks 16.3%, Latino 13.5%

    From 2006 census report:
    Household income by race – Asians $57,518, Whites $48,977, Latino $34,241, Black $30,134

    It's not about race. It's about education. Asian-Americans have a higher average household income than whites, but they also have a higher percentage with 4-year degrees. If racism was the root of the issue, Asian-Americans would surely be lower than "whites" as well.

    When it comes to education, it's a cultural issue. Studies show "black" children tend to idolize music stars, athletes, etc. When the President was elected, there were numerous statements about "African-American kids having a role model". Why did it take a minority to be deemed worthy as a role model? The sad reality is the less education someone has, the lower income they can expect to earn, and the greater the chance of them losing their job in a recession. Racism is not the root cause of gangs, drop outs, teen pregnancy, crime, etc. It also isn't the cause of disparity between incomes. It's plain and simply an issue of education. Face it. The majority of Americans voted for a minority.

    Everyone is entitled to AT LEAST a high school education, but it takes a community to mold children so they see the value, not ignoring them so they learn about life on the streets, or from other kids. This recession affects EVERYONE and odds are the lower your education, the more it affects you.

    April 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  6. mlh2080 chicago south

    i dont think that the black man can survive in this economy.i am a 20 year old blck man that lives on the south side of chicago and have been looking 4 a job for over a year.every single store in my neighboorhood is employed by mexicans who are mostly illegal and cant even speak english but when u go to a mexican neighboorhood u see no blacks.maybe a few whites but no blacks.when u have illegals getting jobs over citizens in a neighboorhood thats already full of poverty it only makes the situation worse

    April 14, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  7. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Sorry, but to some who take an exception to my 'sense of entitlement' statement, any individual or group who feels that they are 'owed' something by society rather than earn it themselves has a sense of entitlement. If you listen to the rhetoric of black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, they are always ready to blame lingering effects of slavery or racsim for economic inequality rather than lack of initiative of the individual. It's an individual choice to drop out of school, and black drop-out rates are 2-3 times that for whites. 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. Another choice, obviously not by the child, but by the parent. When is the last time you heard Al Sharpton lead a demonstration against droppoing out of high school? Never! I have to disagree Whitney when he says that black felony convictions are the result of racial profiling and trumped up evidence. The vast vast majority are the result of actual crimes. These are all personal choices. The government isn't responsible, nor is society. One of the few things I give Obama credit for is that he speaks out against these choices. Life isn't fair, but 95% of what you become is up to you, 5% is up to the circumstances of birth.

    @Tehero, if You are talking about bailouts, I'd say give them to no one. Business should be darwinian in nature. The strong and smart survive, the weak and stupid fail. The net result is that those who are left are the best and will grow.

    April 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  8. Justin M.

    I dont why people chose to pretend as though race does not matter or has not dealings in any of the problems in this country. Is race to blame for the current economic issues? NO!!! I am not saying that nor do I believe it either. All that I am saying is the key to economic success in any country is educating the citizens PERIOD. It's that simple and straight forward. Also people like to say that the African American community has a sense of entitlement in every matter. Why should I not have a sense of entitlement when i know for a fact through research that my ancestors were slaves in Virginia.

    They were beat, raped, and torn from their families. Why should I not feel that the unjust lost of my ancestors by the hands of a country and people who felt they were nothing more than large mules, should not be justified. Why should their blood not be avenged, why should their hard work not be paid for, why should they children still suffer the pangs of a system long ago. You see this country has a bad case of "white privilege". You all have the privilege of not caring, not understanding, and simply not knowing what it is like to know that for 300 years your people were enslaved. Jim Crow..Happened and it wasn't that long ago, the voting rights act of 1965 was only 44 years ago, Brown vs Board of Education was only 55 years ago, lets not pretend like "we" should be over it all by now, because my privileged friends, it was not that long ago.

    April 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm |
  9. Les canada

    I don't care what color your skin is. If you lost your job, your house, and are in danger of losing your family, then the Washington Boys better sit up and take notice. I believe that your politicians better check their egos at the door and get down to the business of saving families.

    I had heard that Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac paid out bonuses! What was this based on... how many families they could kick to the curb?

    It is very unfortunate that your government was so quick to bail out some of these companies. Maybe in the long run, it is time that they fended for themselves. Perhaps this would have given them some enlightened perspective.

    In the end, it is just families that suffer.

    April 14, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  10. Terrence, NC

    Although I agree that the statements made in the article are most likely true. I think everyone realizes that. The problem is that it is hard to empathize with the plight of black america when so many whites are in the same boat (losing homes, retirement accounts, etc) and so many latinos and asians as well. The recession that hit us did not just affect blacks and I think it is a dangerous thing to try and make our (YES I am black also) more substancial than any other race. Now is the time when we need to step outside of ourselves and see the bigger picture because we are all affected. I think the best thing to do in these times is to try to work together, network, get additional training, and in the meantime take whatever job you can. Believe it or not, there are jobs out there. They may not be exactly what you are qualified for or what you would like, but a paycheck is a paycheck and 200 dollars towards monthly expenses is better than zero. That's the fundamentals of economics. I have a problem seeing ANYONE lose their job or be without work!

    April 14, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  11. becem9

    I am so not amazed at why this country is in the state of decline that we're in after reading these replies. It's so pathetic that people think the color of ones skin is the deciding factor for every issue in this country. What we're talking about here is simple...basic economics, power and corruption. We're talking about the government and big business collaborating to take all they can and leave the rest of us screwed. So long as they keep selling that lame old song about the difference we have because of our color, the longer they can continue to steal and waste our tax money and send jobs overseas.

    WAKE UP!!!

    Neither the government nor big business (buy American) give a crap about you nor your families! Just keep fighting amongst yourselves as to which race is to blame and who has a "sense of entitlement". We'll soon find ourselves fighting over the scraps leftover when "the haves" run off to their private islands.

    April 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  12. Fay - California

    How is expecting equal and fair treatment from society somehow interpreted by some here as African-Americans feeling "entitled"?

    April 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  13. LEE

    Right on, Melissa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Well said and so true too!!! You hit the NAIL On the HEAD!!

    April 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  14. dhm lp tx.

    our hope for uncorrupted leadership is again crushed by greed or ignorance, the only ones being stimulated are the rich.
    President Obama so far is only involved in trickle down economics, and the auto industry. I'll tell you now, bankers are not loaning to any stressed small buisness, and who in the hell is not stressed at this time. Bankers are to involved in personal aquisitions, big local & overseas deals, where there is more chance for personal gains.
    FDR moved us from silver certificates, to federal reserve notes so the public would have the cash. We didnot need China then Nor do We Need Them Now. It's all Crap that we are being fed.

    April 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Samantha

    Melissa, Black men and black people suffering higher unemployment rates is a FACT. Just like in the Great Depression, race is affecting who can hold on to a job. Yes the recession is affecting everyone of all races but blacks still are more likely to be unemployed than people of other races. The numbers prove it.

    Mike, some blacks may act entitled, but people of races act entitled so don't put blacks in a corner and disregard the similar behavior people of other races.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  16. Herb

    Ronald, i agree.........this is from a black man that lives in the muti $1,000,000.00 suburbs of Beverly Hills

    April 14, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  17. Jason

    While i may a
    gree with Mike on his assessement that those from single parent, low income, poor educated communities are far more likely to fare worse in this economy. I do take umbrage with the suggestion that black people have a sense of entitlement. Black Amerians suffer from the same entitlements that every American has. The ability to learn in an environment without a glass celing. The hope to transfer said education into being a vital part of this society. Thats aprt of the American dream. Realize that schools in the inner city are all funded by the state. You cant blame the student for lack of books, or blame a student for a facility where the spirit and mind is meant to grow & prosper, cant because the school lacks basic things such proper classrooms & plumbing. I think Mike and people like him should veture outside their bubble and educate themselves on wordly issues before the comment.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Sharon S

    I totally agree with you, this is NOT the time to keep pushing a race issue! I have never seen or heard so much about race in the media until now? WHY?

    It almost seems you are pushing it almost trying to divide our country even more, this is a hard time for many people of all races, we need to pull together not apart!!

    So for future reference please speak of Americans as ALL Americans not certain races, classes or creeds!

    April 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm |
  19. Ed

    All the black people I know do not have an entitlement thinking problem. They work hard for what they have and think that they are not owed anything in life. To ignore skin color in this issue is to cover up a big problem in America. I'm not obsessing over color or putting one race above the other but I just think that everyone should look at the facts.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  20. ronald

    The color of skin(race) still has a lot to do with it because we were brought here, brought into slavery then we were let free with little assistance. I still get looked at funny and I still get pulled over and searched. Skin color will always be a factor. This is from a black male that lives in the $100,000 suburbs of northern virginia

    April 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  21. Jeffrey

    While I can understand your point of there being a correlation between unemployment statistics and dropout rates, single parenthood, and felony convictions. It's sad that you would think that majority of the race feels a sense of entitlement. Most of the black people I know are hardworking, and just want a level playing field. As Americans I thought we were all entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness?

    Also Melissa unfortunately it is human nature to classify things, and our differences are everpresent. If it were not race it would be gender, religion, nationality, or economic status.

    The facts are the facts, and until we start showing compassion and helping each other it won't get any better. You wouldn't look at a rape victim and tell her to get over it, or an abused child and expect him to recover instantly. So let's stop looking at Black people and telling them to get over hundreds of years of mistreatment. The Civil rights movement took place in the 60's. That's only a few decades ago... in all honesty we've come a long way, but there is still a long way to go!

    April 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  22. meenas17

    Black ,white, yellow , -colour discrimination still works through. Mr Andrew , a black has lost his job. Mr.John, a white has also lost his job . Mr. Chan, a yellow , has been sacked. Does these statements throw light on anything important? It is explicit that three men have been thrown out of job. We feel bad about it. Nothing more and nothing less.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  23. Whitney Dunlap-Fower


    Color is ABSOLUTELY still an issue in this country. You're right Melissa, this isn't a "BLACK" or "Minority" thing because everyone IS affected in ALL industries.

    However, this article is simply stating that of all the people who are losing their jobs, Black men are losing them at a higher rate. Why get so defensive when it's just stating the facts? And to Mike in Syracuse, I suspect your correct on some points, although I was raised by a single mother and graduated from college before any of my "two parent family" peers did- and that was a four year, not two year university.

    However, when you take into account the rate at which Black men are unfairly racially profiled, wrongfully accused, and locked up in jail without sufficient evidence the the statisitics suddenly are against them in this situation and in LIFE in general.

    As for your statment about Blacks feeling "entitled to things" in this country, I'll give it to you you are partially correct, but please remember to not group all of us "colored people" into that category.

    Race is definately still an issue it's just not as overt as it was before, therefore, it will never be IN your face; it's just in ours, and we recognize it as such.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  24. Teresa, OH

    @Mike: couldnt have said it better myself. It is what it is.

    April 14, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  25. Justin M.

    I agree with you also Melissa, what I am just saying is simply a problem that has always existed is getting worst. To no fault of any one entity, group, or person. But something needs to be done.


    April 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  26. becem9

    I think this has more to do with lack of education, lack of connections, and the general fleecing of America. We're taught to be loyal, faithful citizens of this country and to support the institutions that make us great, such as our government and major companies/brands. Yet these same "great institutions" raise our taxes, send our jobs overseas, bury us paperwork and long lines (taxes, DMV offices and other bureaucratic time wasters). We've allowed government to become gluttonous, stagnant, and abusive in the way they've assisted big business in destroying American ingenuity without accountability. Even the people who risk their lives in wars are treated like second citizens when they return with injuries or disabilities. It's down right shameful! Disgusting! America is slowly becoming a human wasteland thanks to government and big business!

    April 14, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  27. Brian McConnell

    Mike, your "unfortunately the black culture in America seems to be based on entitlement thinking rather than personal responsibility" is explicit racism packaged in an educated sentence. Generalizations are dangerous and stem from ridiculously faulty logic, guess you missed that class.

    Melissa, no one is obsessing a statistic is simply that. Thank god for a news blog that gives us factual statistics instead of the sensationalized bigotry that Mike is obviously tuning into.

    April 14, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  28. Vickie

    Well said, Melissa

    April 14, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  29. Tahero

    Being broke can kill you. Is there a connection between unemployment and mortality? On a recent show Bill Moyers mentioned Peter Dreier’s research estimating that for every percent the rate of unemployment climbs, an additional 47,000 people die – half from heart attacks, more than 800 are murdered and nearly twelve hundred commit suicide.

    Mike: It's telling and very interesting that you don't critique the entitlement thinking of the Harvard Business School graduates that started the current U.S. recession.

    April 14, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  30. Melissa

    Oh stop. Stop the complete obsession with the color of a persons skin. This shouldn't even be an issue and I'm tired of the chip that all sides of the issue have on their shoulders.

    This economic crisis is not about black, white, hispanic, or anything else.

    This recession is about people losing their jobs in all industries.

    Obsessing over color only makes things worse, not better.

    April 14, 2009 at 11:28 am |