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Weak Jobs Boost Skips Blacks

As CNN Money reports, Blacks are not benefiting from the mild jobs recovery now underway, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for African American women actually declined in 2011, while overall, African Americans lost more jobs and gained fewer new ones than the general population.

The reason is something Via Meadia has been writing about: governments (and semi-governmental entities like the USPS) employ a large number of Blacks.  Teachers, firefighters, policemen, clerks and managers working in government are the heart and soul of the Black middle class.

Those are precisely the jobs that have been slashed during the last recession and will be under pressure for some time to come. Pay and benefits for government employees will be falling even as the number of new hires drops. Unless state and local tax revenues pick up soon, more layoffs will come.  It is likely that the burden of huge pension bills will end up falling most heavily on young African American workers; governments everywhere have underfunded their pension programs and will have to make up the gap in the future by cutting new hires and slashing pay.

Health care, another important source of employment for African Americans, is also going to be squeezed. Whether through the current Obama reform, a single payer program, or some new GOP plan, this sector is going to be squeezed as rising costs make the current ways of doing business unsustainable.

Parents, educators, social policy wonks, young African Americans launching careers: everyone needs to think about how the next generation can be prepared for success in a world where all the old and reliable rules are in play. To the extent that they work at all, many urban public schools and colleges work as bureaucrat breeding compounds: students are expected to conform, to obey, to live by the clock — and to expect stable and predictable promotion, often for not a whole lot of work. From high school to the USPS.

This needs to change, soon.  Nobody is better placed to lead this vital charge than the Community Organizer in Chief; Via Meadia hopes we will be hearing more about this from the White House.  It’s urgent.

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  • vanderleun

    Hey, the recent polls put the approval of Obama by African=Americans at around a whopping 83%. Clearly he is doing something right here. Clearly whatever his policies and politics are they are being embraced by African Americans. Why should he change anything for this group since they are currently so approving of whatever it is he’s up to.

    If you can keep the stealth reparations flowing jobs are, well, so 20th century.

  • a nissen

    That’s most probably but the tip of the iceberg.

    Those interested in the iceberg, or at least one plausible configuration of it, might want to suffer through the Wiedemers’ poorly written, but salient, “Aftershock,” Second Edition.

    Salient—1) the origins and characteristics of the current Great Upheaval are decidedly different than those of the Great Depression; 2) the U.S. public is not an army compelled to do the bidding of generals determined to fight the last war; 3) however, that’s the most likely scenario—in line with Churchill’s assessment of us.

  • gaumwhat

    I don’t quite understand this line, “To the extent that they work at all, many urban public schools and colleges work as bureaucrat breeding compounds: students are expected to conform, to obey, to live by the clock — and to expect stable and predictable promotion, often for not a whole lot of work.”

    Do you really mean to suggest that urban public schools function as places where local bureaucrats are educated? Can you please unpack this assertion?

  • Bob Lucas

    Vanderleun’s last paragraph strikes a chord. Dealing with govt agencies, there’s obviously more in play than affirmative action. I could almost support the idea, on a much $maller scale. Thanks

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    What evidence do you have to support the idea that Obama will do anything to support job growth? He is a Socialist, and socialism has never worked anywhere, and some very serious people have tried (Stalin, Mao, etc…) and ended up murdering over 100 million people in the attempts.
    The fact is Obama and the Democrats are responsible for Great Depression 2.0, because they drained $6 trillion from the fuel tank of the economy with deficit spending.
    There is a reason why it’s called Capitalism, Capital is what fuels it.
    $6 Trillion being used by businesses and consumers, would have created a lot of jobs, instead it was wasted by Obama and the Democrats, and turned into a burden on our children.

  • Toni

    I suggest you check with the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

    “The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.” NBCC cofounder & CEO Harry Alford is eloquent about the ways in which government gets in the way of black job creation.

    In “Sell Out in Philly, Again,” he shows how nonunion black construction firms are barred from city construction contracts.

    “Is all of this About Texas?” details the ways the Obama Administration is obstructing job growth there: shutting down offshore drilling, slashing NASA in Houston, blocking an AT&T merger, and stalling the Keystone pipeline. (Texas’s population is 12% African-American.)

    In October, the NBCC’s chairman — who runs a 60-employee concrete firm in New Orleans — testified before Congress about the threat to his business, and to rebuilding the city, from new EPA regulations.

    The site also analyzes the threat to blacks’ economic well-being from climate change legislation; links to PDF versions of its legal challenges to EPA regulations; and maintains that Civil Rights legislation meant to redress past discrimination has been so broadened (white women, Hispanics, Asians) that black-owned businesses are crowded out.

    That is, government at every level puts obstacles in the way of black entrepreneurs, while government programs originally meant to aid them don’t. These small companies would be among those least able to weather hard times and new regulatory challenges.

    You worry about blacks being laid off from government jobs. What about those who get laid off, and the jobs that don’t get created, because of the Big Government steamroller?

  • LarryD


    “Do you really mean to suggest that urban public schools function as places where local bureaucrats are educated?”

    I think it’s more that urban public schools prepare students only for functioning as bureaucrats, they don’t teach the skills, values, or attitudes useful to any other existence.


    Democratic controlled governments have been biased in favor of unions for a long time. The minimum wage laws were created to protect the unions from non-union (and often minority) competition.

  • Anthony

    WRM, to your suggestion that parents, educators, social policy wonks, and young African Americans launching careers rethink old ways; in the black community,there is no tradition of intellectual skill in the social sciences beyond social work (govt., quasi govt., health services, etc.). As a prime victim of capitalism’s imperatives, black parents, educators, youth, etc. have not consciously engaged how the inner dynamic of capitalism has its own momentum; neither have they sensed that the past 70 years of Blue Model (Fordism) economics can no longer sustain top down welfare/warfare state politics and economics.

    Capitalist society, per se, infers “ill effects” (unemployment, underemployment, dislocations, failures, creative destruction, etc,); and African Americans as most Americans must seriously examine the capital model and how they as well as others with pro capitalistic reflexes acquire sustainability (“This economic system cannot do without the ultima ratio of the complete destruction of those existences which are irretrievably associated with the hopelessly unadapted” – Joseph Schumpeter).

    WRM, to your point this needs to change soon, the contours of opportunity must be reshaped and Americans must contend honestly with the psychological/structural imperatives that drive group discrimination – although we publicly deny it; equally, contemporary mechanisms – transformation, technology, social/cultural redefinitions, etc. – potentially open new pathways for African Americans as well as Americans generally to seek innovatively (via human capital) means to analyze economic imperatives of 21st century and how they fit.

    At bottom WRM, we are talking economic growth and restructuring (the concept race can be a high risk factor)….

  • dr kill

    Stop the presses! Over at The examiner Tom Elia makes the claim that over a quarter mill new Fed hires since 2006.
    Are the newbies all white?

  • Toni

    Now I’ll broach the really sensitive side of the topic of black unemployment. To what extent does black behavior contribute to black unemployment?

    Think of the incarceration rate of black males. Whether it “proves” that the justice system is racist or not, a black man (or woman) with a record will have a harder time getting hired than one without. Some parts of popular black music glorify life on the wrong side of the law, e.g., gangsta rap.

    Some parts glorify the sex act, and some denigrate women. Seventy percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers. Unmarried mothers of any complexion have a harder time economically than mothers with a man in the home to share chores and expenses. Work time lost to child care simply makes a worker less useful to an employer. No sexism about it. An employee who can regularly work a full 40 hours a week can get and keep a job better than one who can’t.

    Remember the fuss some months ago when Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter had some very frank advice about job hunting? His speech, made in a black Baptist church in response to flash mobs, addressed a lot of behavioral issues. It’s worth reading in its entirety, available here.

    Below is one part pertaining to job issues and much else.

    “If you want all of us — black, white, or any other color — if you want us to respect you, if you want us to look at you in a different way, if you want us not to be afraid to walk down the same side of the street with you, if you want folks not to jump out of the elevator when you get on, if you want folks to stop following you around in stores when you’re out shopping, if you want somebody to offer you a job or an internship somewhere, if you don’t want folks to be looking in or trying to go in a different direction when they see two or twenty of you coming down the street, then stop acting like idiots and fools, out in the streets of the city of Philadelphia. Just cut it out.

    “And another thing. Take those doggone hoodies down, especially in the summer. Pull your pants up and buy a belt, because no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt. Nobody. Buy a belt. Buy a belt. Nobody wants to see your underwear. Comb your hair. And get some grooming skills. Comb your hair. Running round here with your hair all over the place. Learn some manners. Keep your butt in school, graduate from high school, go on to college so you can go and make something of yourself and be a good citizen, here in this city.

    “And why don’t you work on extending your English vocabulary. Extend your English vocabulary beyond the few curse words that you know, some other grunts and grumbles and other things that none of us can understand what you’re saying.

    “And if you go to look for a job, don’t go blame it on the white folks, or anybody else. If you walk in somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back and your shoes untied and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arm, on your face, on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you. They don’t hire you because you look like you’re crazy. That’s why they’re not hiring you.”

  • Toni

    A final note. The CNN chart shows the Hispanic unemployment rate to be lower than blacks’ but still significantly higher than whites’.

    Hispanics are 16% of the US population (blacks are 13%) and growing fast. They have their own unique history within what are now U.S. borders. They’re more likely to have citizenship issues than blacks. They face their own challenges, especially those whose native tongue is Spanish.

    I suggest that your concern for Blacks is out of proportion to their place in contemporary America. Not in its history, but in its present. Please give a thought to the masses of brown Hispanic faces and the challenges they face.

    I call my housekeeper and dear friend Noemi my Sister from Salvador. When I went to her two daughters’ dance recital in a working class suburb of Houston last year, I saw on stage the entire spectrum of American faces, from pasty to ebony. It’s very different, I think, from the geography you now inhabit. I find it a hopeful sight.

  • Luke Lea

    During the reconstruction of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina a young African-American approached the foreman at a job site and asked why there were Mexicans but no blacks on the job site. “Because blacks aren’t willing to sleep out on the ground at night.”

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