Dog bites man

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jul 12 06:04:48 MDT 2003

NY Times, July 12, 2003
Blacks Lose Better Jobs Faster as Middle-Class Work Drops

Unemployment among blacks is rising at a faster pace than in any similar
period since the mid-1970's, and the jobs lost have been mostly in
manufacturing, where the pay for blacks has historically been higher than
in many other fields.

Nearly 2.6 million jobs have disappeared over all during the last 28
months, which began with a brief recession that has faded into a weak
recovery. Nearly 90 percent of those lost jobs were in manufacturing,
according to government data, with blacks hit disproportionately harder
than whites.

At the same time, jobless black Americans have been unusually persistent
about staying in the labor force. Having landed millions of jobs in the
booming 1990's, they have continued to look for new ones in the soft
economy, and so are counted now as unemployed; if they gave up trying to
find work, they would not be counted.

These two phenomena help to explain why the black unemployment rate, though
still not high by historic standards, is rising twice as fast as that of
whites, and faster than in any downturn since the mid-1970's recession.
Low-wage workers and women who went from welfare to work in the 1990's have
largely kept their jobs; factory breadwinners have borne the pain, men and
women alike.

"The number of jobs and the types of jobs that have been lost have severely
diminished the standing of many blacks in the middle class," said William
Lucy, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

In Indianapolis, for example, Autoliv, a Swedish manufacturer of seat
belts, is closing a plant and laying off 350 workers, more than 75 percent
of them black. Many are young adults who were hired in the late 1990's when
the unemployment rate in Indianapolis was only 2 percent and Autoliv, to
recruit enough workers to expand production, hired young men without high
school diplomas.

"They were taken from the street into decent-paying jobs; they were making
$12 to $13 an hour," said Michael Barnes, director of an A.F.L.-C.I.O.
training program that helps laid-off workers in Indiana search for new
jobs. "These young men started families, dug in, took apartments, purchased
vehicles. It was an up-from-the-street experience for them, and now they
are being returned to their old environment."


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