[Marxism] Black male unemployment nearly 50 percent

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 28 09:10:29 MST 2004

NY Times, February 28, 2004
Nearly Half of Black Men Found Jobless

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.''

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/28/nyregion/28employ.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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