Too often during this election season, discussions of how Black males are faring economically have been lumped in with rants about “shared responsibility and sacrifice.” Yet new unemployment statistics out recently — alongside several decades of Black males disproportionately locked out of the mainstream economy or struggling at its lower to middle rungs — point to a different conclusion: American society has all but surrendered when it comes to the economic plight of Black men.
During the Great Recession, between 2007 and 2009, 8-million Americans lost their jobs. For African Americans, especially the poor and working class, the economic meltdown could be characterized as an inverse parody of their social fate turned on its head. Still struggling with the historical vestiges of unemployment, Blacks lead all ethnic groups with an unemployment rate of 14.1 percent, according to the most-recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (This, after topping 16 percent during 2011.)
Last month, the unemployment rate for African-American youth ages 16-19 was 36.6 percent, after approaching 50 percent during 2011. For African-American men and women 20 years and older, the unemployment rate was 14.8 and 11.5 percent, respectively, in July 2012.
The abysmal unemployment rate of African-American males, not to mention their high incarceration and low graduation rates, further compounds this economic catastrophe.
According to a 2012 Department of Labor Report (“The African-American Labor Force In Recovery”):
Blacks are the only racial or ethnic group for whom women represent a larger share of the employed than do men — more than half (53 percent) of the employed Blacks in 2011 were women, compared to 46.0 percent among employed Whites.