Secretary of Labor: Economic Recovery Needs to Include Black Community

Secretary Hilda Solis says that the unemployment rate for black workers is unacceptably high.

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Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (Getty)

In a blog post on Work in Progress, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Labor, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis tackles unemployment and its impact on "vulnerable demographic populations." She discusses the unacceptably high rate of unemployment among blacks in general, which is at 16 percent, and black teens, which is at 40.7 percent.

Those factors were outlined in the report The Black Labor Force in the Recovery, which was released last week. Read an excerpt of what Solis has to say about what black communities are facing in the job market. What do you think should be done to help decrease the disparity?

The unemployment rate for black workers remains unacceptably high at 16.2%. African American workers are more likely to work in the public sector than either white or Latino workers, so they’ve faced more of the burden of the continuing loss of state and local government jobs. Black employment took the largest hit in manufacturing, financial activities, wholesale/retail trade, transportation/warehousing, and construction. But industries like transportation, warehousing and health care employ a large share of black workers and are growing. We need to match the skills needed in these areas to more African American workers, and then match those people to the growing number of jobs in those industries.

We also know that jobs in professional and technical services are expected to grow the fastest by 2018, but blacks are underrepresented in these industries. Again, we need to match skills with workers, and then match these workers with real jobs.  

The report spotlights a particular concern for me: the high rate of black teen unemployment.  In May 2011, the black teen unemployment rate was 40.7%. While this rate is still unacceptably high, it is improving, having come down from nearly 50%. And there is a bright spot: more African-American youth are staying in school and going to college. More education means less unemployment and higher wages.    

I understand the severity of the employment challenges faced by African-Americans. The President does too ...

Read more at Work in Progress.

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