[Marxism] Black male unemployment nearly 50 percent
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 28 09:10:29 MST 2004
NY Times, February 28, 2004
Nearly Half of Black Men Found Jobless
By JANNY SCOTT
It is well known that the unemployment rate in New York City rose sharply
during the recent recession. It is also understood that the increase was
worse for men than for women, and especially bad for black men. But a new
study examining trends in joblessness in the city since 2000 suggests that
by 2003, nearly one of every two black men between 16 and 64 was not working.
The study, by the Community Service Society, a nonprofit group that serves
the poor, is based on data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and
focuses on the so-called employment-population ratio - the fraction of the
working-age population with a paid job - in addition to the more familiar
unemployment rate, the percentage of the labor force actively looking for work.
Mark Levitan, the report's author, found that just 51.8 percent of black
men ages 16 to 64 held jobs in New York City in 2003. The rate for white
men was 75.7 percent; for Hispanic men, 65.7; and for black women, 57.1.
The employment-population ratio for black men was the lowest for the period
Mr. Levitan has studied, which goes back to 1979.
"We're left with a very big question,'' Mr. Levitan, a senior policy
analyst with the society, said in an interview. "As the economy recovers,
will we see a rise in employment among black men in tandem with the rise in
employment of city residents generally? In other words, is this
fundamentally a cyclical problem or is it more deeply structural? I fear
that it is more deeply structural."
Researchers who have studied joblessness said Mr. Levitan's findings were
consistent with trends among disadvantaged men, both black and white, in
other Northern and Midwestern cities where manufacturing jobs have
disappeared in recent decades. Some said factors that might have made the
problem worse since 2000 could include welfare reform, high rates of
incarceration producing gaps in job histories, and competition with
immigrants for low-skill jobs.
Lawrence M. Mead, a professor of political science at New York University
who specializes in social policy and welfare reform, said that labor force
participation - job-holding and job-seeking - among disadvantaged men had
been declining nationwide and that New York City had long had "a lower work
level" than elsewhere. Others said a similar racial gap in male employment
had been seen in Midwestern and Central states.
"You're really talking about a long-term problem among low-skilled,
disadvantaged men,'' Professor Mead said. "Blacks are disproportionately
disadvantaged. You're seeing this tendency to drop out. It's very serious
and nobody has an answer.''
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