Jobs Report Show Blacks Left Behind as Obama Preps to Meet Black Caucus

A Tale of Two Economies

Job Seeking Interview Unemployment
(Image: Thinkstock)

By many accounts the job market is bouncing back with a vengeance.    The Labor Department reports the economy created 257,000 new jobs in January, with retailers posting the biggest increases.  This after a robust 329,000 in job gains in December, and a 429,000 jump in November.

Also impressive, the unemployment rate in January stood at just 5.7%.   For African-Americans, however, the report is yet another illustration of a tale of two economies.  The unemployment rate for blacks was nearly double that of the overall population at 10.3%, down from 10.4% in December.

Valerie Rawlston Wilson, director of Economic Policy Institute’s program on Race, Ethinicity, and the Economy, says while things are improving we should beware of becoming complacent.

“My concern is that we begin to get too comfortable with what we’re seeing,” said Wilson.  “If we don’t keep making a concerted effort, blacks miss out on getting a full recovery,” she added.

Wilson says initiatives like My Brother’s Keeper which President Obama launched late February 2014 are good, but the program — which has been met with a mixed response — was promise, not policy.

In addition, while some of the President’s ideas such as free community college for all would benefit blacks, they do not address the unique challenges African Americans face when it comes to the labor market.

“From that point of view, I would like to see more direct targeted efforts in expanding opportunities for people of color,” said Wilson.  “We need investment in job training and education.

We also spoke with Congressman Jim Himes, a democrat from Connecticut soon after the jobs report was released.  “As we watch a now strong economic recovery, we must not forget that the recovery is uneven,” the Congressman told us.  “Certain communities including communities of color, have yet to feel real recovery.  It is important that policy makers do all they can to address this problem,” Congressman Himes added.

President Obama will likely be speaking to many members of Congress about the employment situation for blacks.  Next week, he will meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The CBC declined to comment on the agenda for the meeting.  They did, however, tell BE that employment and jobs are part of their priorities.

  • HerrinSchadenfreude

    Change in the heart can’t be legislated. You can’t drag someone to a new understanding by the nape of the neck. All attempts to do that are going to result in is resentment on both sides.

    Non-Blacks will continue to cry about things like Affirmative Action and Rooney Rule (in football) and essentially chalk up every Black person with a job as having gotten it as a result of such quota systems.

    Blacks will tire quickly of the stigma that goes along with such assumptions and will want to be known as people who earn their way just like anyone else is assumed to have done. Because nobody who earns their way wants to be babied or made an exception.

    If you cannot be real about this and start eliminating the slanted reporting, the prehistoric disingenuous crime statistics, feigned stupidity concerning the very easily understood domino effect of poverty and racism in past generations on the successes of following generations, and an understanding that compared to the color green everyone is the “wrong color”, this problem will never be dealt with.