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Blacks Take It on the Chin in New York

The New York Times is reporting that more than half of all black New Yorkers are now unemployed, and that they remain unemployed for a year on average after losing their jobs. Meanwhile, the number of “discouraged workers”—people who give up looking for work after a long period of unemployment—has risen to 40,000 among blacks, much higher than it stood at the beginning of the recession and nearly twice the rate for whites.

Numerous businesses have reported payroll increases, and important professional industries like law and accounting are beginning to recover. Blacks, however, have been largely left out of this recovery—including college-educated blacks, who in many cases have been forced to settle for jobs well below their qualifications:

“Employers are getting more for less,” said Mr. Starkes, who was at a Workforce1 Career Center in Harlem on Wednesday. “People who used to get a job with a bachelor’s degree now need a master’s. I just think that’s the state of the economy right now.”

Mr. Jones said he was also troubled by the inability of less-skilled and less-educated workers to find jobs for long periods. For example, he said, his agency, which provides services to poor and low-income New Yorkers, found that about half of the people holding jobs as security guards had bachelor’s degrees or had attended college. That was up from about 26 percent six years ago, he said.

“The wage didn’t go up,” Mr. Jones said. “This is a low-wage job. It pays $10 an hour with no health insurance.”

But don’t worry: if any of these long-term unemployed people ever get some spending money together, Mayor Bloomberg has them covered: he’s moving heaven and earth to make sure they don’t buy oversized sodas or eat any trans fats.

A message to nanny-staters everywhere: Please, attend to the big stuff first. Build an economy that is producing jobs, and especially jobs for the poor. Once you’ve really got that down, you can move on to the evils of soda. Spend less time worrying about whether little Jennifer is packing too many Ring Dings in her school lunch, and more time making sure her parents have jobs.

Is that really such a tough concept to grasp? And is New York really such a successful place that we all we really need to do for the poor is to tax or prohibit the few pleasures they can afford?

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  • Jim Breed

    I have just the solution to this problem. Let’s give work permits to almost a million illegal immigrants. Shifting the supply curve for labor to the right always does wonders for wages.

    Heckuva job Barry!

  • thibaud

    Once again, our partisan bloggers and pundits try to distract the public from the elephant in the room. While there are many culprits for the decline in economic prospects for low-skilled Americans over the last generation – globalization, manufacturing decline etc – there’s one factor that was within our control, and that our elites and the partisan cheerleaders have completely botched: Mexican immigration.

    Just imagine how many jobs would be available to unskilled or low-skilled african-americans – and white americans, and native-born hispanic-americans – had this nation’s two parties and their cheerleaders in the media not foisted a second underclass, imported from abroad, on the nation during the last 30 years.

    Swamping the low-end labor market with millions of unskilled, semiliterate or illiterate campesinos has been a disaster – for low-end US workers, for US social service provision, for state and local budgets, for law enforcement, for healthcare, for the public schools.

    We need to police the border and move ASAP to a points-based immigration system that privileges those with advanced skills.

    Is that really such a tough concept to grasp?

  • Withywindle

    Black labor force participation is below 50%; the unemployment rate among blacks is 14%. I think you should correct your post.

  • Emerson

    Government jobs for all! “It’s Monday – everybody works on Monday!” From each according to his ability, to each according to his need!!

  • Corlyss

    The Financial Industry should relocate to North Carolina in toto. That would force NY to get serious about a number of social issues, like grow jobs before growing welfare.

  • BobJustBob

    Jobs are hard.

    Ring Dings are easy.

    Menckens observation that Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard seems to be most applicable here.

    Blue State proles electing Blue State Party members for decades and now they’re confused because it’s all coming apart.

    Another rube self identifies…

  • R McDonnell

    Given the current state of things, it seems unwise for the white tower-types to be handing down policy from on high, denying the masses the small pleasures in life, trivial and unhealthy as those pleasures may be.

  • John

    Looking (far) forward, this is going to be a greater and greater problem as machine intelligence increases, especially now that machines can produce and recognize speech and act upon natural language. (Machine vision and physical interaction are improving rapidly, too.) It used to be that absolutely any normal human being had a total advantage over any machine in those respects. Not anymore. As machines move up and up the cognitive ladder, fewer and fewer people beneath them will be able to add value relative to their respective marginal wages (moderately high and zero, respectively).

    For conservatives (like me) and libertarians this will be a special challenge, since for nearly all of human history, “to each according to his due”, according to what was earned, was not only a good economic rule, but a just moral one as well, with a conceptually (if not always practically) clear exception (for conservatives, anyway) for “the deserving poor” (widows and orphans, e.g.). But what exactly can a perfectly normal human being with an I.Q. of 85 add to the economy when competing with the generalized-IQ-100, task-specific-IQ-200 robots of the year 2030? What if the answer is: nothing? Then they just die? Or live an idle life of the mass entertainment welfare state?

    What about when the generalized-IQ-150 units appear by the tens or hundreds of millions in 2040?

    That would (if all goes well) result in a level of material abundance almost beyond imagination now, but almost none of it earned by humans. So what then?

    For all the entirely proper talk of the collapse of the blue state model, it’s easy to imagine that in the not-so-distant future we may need to reinvent something like it to deal with a (possible) world in which only the most genius human robotic designers end up adding concrete value to the economy, the rest being, not in moral but in economic terms, parasites. (Reminder: this “the rest” includes every person reading this text now.)

    And this very, very much assumes something like Judeo-Christian or at least Kantian morals for the robots (and their designers), treating the poor as ends in themselves, not means only. If they’re morally nihilistic (via scientism, say) or just pragmatic or in any way have a “higher calling” than serving and protecting ordinary human beings–pursuit of truth, say, or maximizing production, or optimizing for efficiency–then goodbye us. This is the only threat I can think of, scientifically at least, that could eliminate every single human being in the universe within an interval of 1 second or so in many hypothetical futures.

  • vanderleun

    Off Topic Alert: You know, if you want to get this blog to the next level you’re going to have to get on the comment moderation stick. Three hours between posting and still no moderate comments means that many, many, many have been through and will never come back. This is a major problem to an otherwise fine page.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    “Mr. Jones said he was also troubled by the inability of less-skilled and less-educated workers to find jobs for long periods.”

    I will bet $1000 that Mr. Jones is an ardent supporter of immediate amnesty for all illegals and an open border policy forever.

    A liberal mind is a mine field of contradictions.

  • Anthony

    In tightening economic times, the old dilemma (Negro Problem) expresses itself in high unemployment numbers. However WRM sans racial explanation, global economy impacts all – especially subordinated group with little wealth or market demandable skills.

    In the forseeable future, black Americans must strive (as all Americans must) to survive economically within the changing parameters of the capitalist game (rules of free enterprise, market capitalism, innovation, etc.) At bottom WRM, black Americans in the aggregate have failed to master the art of cooperative methods of economic organization which can ameliorate destructive forces of capitalism as well as provide structure and design toward aims and interests related to powerful economic imperatives.

  • Ken carr

    Walter, as always, love your perspective. Thanks

  • Mogden

    Who could ever have predicted that raising the minimum wage by 40% in the middle of the worst recession / depression in 50 years would have this effect?

  • Anne McKenzie

    Mr. Mead, I’m confused. I thought race doesn’t exist and that it’s a social construct?

    Yet, here you are acknowledging the existence of race.

  • Ritchie The Riveter

    Problem is, Dr. Mead, that a lot of the “big stuff” is beyond the capability of our leaders to manage/improve effectively and efficiently … because each “big” problem is actually 300 million individual-specific problemS.

    What they need to be doing, is getting out of our way and telling us the truth:

    “Don’t look to us to solve your problems FOR you – work to find your own solutionS. Our job is to keep the roads you use in the pursuit of happiness paved and plowed … driving on them to your preferred destination, and filling the tank to get there, is YOUR challenge.”

  • Kris

    Many good comments so far (15), and in the interest of furthering comity, I explicitly include thibaud 🙂 .

    John@8 points out an interesting conundrum. Will we have no choice but to implement “unearned” redistribution? How will that affect society?

  • SamIam

    Blacks hitched their caboose to one party that consequently takes them for granted. Problem is, blacks have aborted themselves to such a degree that their demographic isn’t enough to guaranty elections for the Democrats even with 95%+ support so the Party is seeking another minority group to enslave to make up the difference. Hispanics should take note of the black experience with being reliable Democrat voters. Has dependence served them well?

  • Lee Reynolds

    Choosing to live in New York in the first place is foolish. The cost of living is insane. I don’t know if someone’s job prospects would truly be better somewhere else, but the lifestyle they would enjoy for the money certainly would be.

  • RebeccaH

    And yet, think of all the jobs that could be had for everybody, if only America were allowed to develop its own energy reserves.

  • SamC

    So lets go ahead and issue work permits and grant in-state tuition for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants!!!

    And blacks will still vote for Obama 90%??

  • thibaud

    I love you too, Kris. Have a great weekend.

  • thibaud

    “Who could ever have predicted that raising the minimum wage by 40% in the middle of the worst recession / depression in 50 years would have this effect?”

    Um, the swamping of the low-end labor market with illegal immigrants has LOWERED real wages for native-born, unskilled US workers, with no increase in opportunities for them.

    If you want to lower unemployment for the unskilled, the most effective way to do so is to introduce tightness into the low-end labor market.

    And the surest and fastest way to do that is to secure the border, enforce verification and increase deportations. Every time this occurs at a micro-level – at say a meat-processing plant in Iowa – the employer who formerly staffed his operations with illegals finds that he has a line around the block of local native-born job applicants for the newly-available positions.

    Of course, what’s obvious to ordinary Americans escapes the grasp of GOP- and Democratic-leaning bloggers, each of whom is determined to avoid giving any advantage to OtherSide in their grand pandering for the all-important hispanic vote.

  • Reagan Fan

    I don’t say this lightly, but Barack Obama hates black people. How else can you explain every single policy he has enacted has the effect of punching American blacks right in the chops. The latest being the immigration decision this month. Who as a class is most hurt by this? Look at every single policy.

    If a white man were president and had devastated the black middle class like he has, Al Sharpton and the guys would be screaming so loud that blood would be spraying from their ears.

  • IcePilot

    You can’t win if you can’t lose.

  • bandit

    The private sector’s doing fine.

  • richard40

    And now somebody can explain to me why black people should all be absolutely thrilled with Obama, and should vote in huge numbers to reelect him.

  • Kris

    thibaud@21: Unfortunately, it’s too late for me to get us a room. 🙂

  • sunsettommy

    Blacks will still vote for democrats 90% of the time.

    Why bother with them when they keep themselves on the liberal plantation?

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