Black Unemployment: Depression-Level Highs in Some Cities

Joblessness remains critically elevated among African Americans.

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Black unemployment is affecting the entire community. (Thinkstock)

Janell Ross is reporting that unemployment rates for blacks have remained critically elevated since the Great Recession. She gives the example of Wanda Nolan, an educated, gainfully employed woman who was essentially living the American dream. Her job was eliminated in 2008, and she has remained unemployed since then.

Like Nolan, many members of the black community have seen their lives devolve from a model of middle-class African-American upward mobility into an example of a disturbing trend: the 15.5 percent of African Americans out of work and still looking for a job.

The nation's overall unemployment rate sits at 8.8 percent, and the rate among white Americans is at 7.9 percent. For a variety of reasons -- ranging from levels of education and continuing discrimination to the relatively young age of black workers -- black unemployment tends to run at twice the rate for whites. Yet since the Great Recession, joblessness has remained so critically elevated among African Americans that it is challenging long-standing ideas about what it takes to find work in the modern-day economy.

Ross writes, "Millions of people like Nolan, who have precisely followed the oft-dictated recipe for economic success -- work hard, get an education, seek advancement -- are slipping backward. Even as they apply for jobs and accept the prospect of a future with less job security and lower pay, they remain stalled in unemployment."

Trading down has become a painful truth for much of working America, and the disparity between unemployed college-educated whites and college-educated blacks has widened.

Tell us something we don't know. It pretty much sucks to follow the blueprint for achieving the American dream and to have it snatched away from you. It's even worse when you are qualified but can't get a shot at another comparable job because there are so few of them.

Some have argued that the concept of the American dream was concocted without black folks in mind. Unemployment and its impact on all parts of our community -- educated and uneducated -- reflects this sentiment.

Read more at Black Voices.

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