Monday, January 26, 2009

Black Unemployment Rates Worrysome To Some Observers

Black Job Losses Alarming

Nat’l Urban League urges Obama, Congress to Act

When the Labor Department released unemployment figures last week showing jobs disappearing in numbers not seen since the end of World War II people stood up and took notice.

The eye popping 7.2% jobless rate dominated world media, shook global financial markets and put more pressure on Congress and President-elect Barack Obama to fast track a massive recovery program to stave off economic catastrophe.

But there’s a far more compelling story that failed to grab the national headlines. According to those same statistics, the jobless rate among Black Americans is 12 percent and climbing at an alarming rate. Labor Department figures show among the major race and ethnicity groups, Blacks had the highest job loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 with Black men leading the surge at 13.4%.

Black unemployment overall leaped from 9.4 percent in May 2008 to 11.9 percent in December. Historically, the jobless rate for Blacks has been more than twice for Whites, while the unemployment rate for Hispanics has hovered between the two groups.

The National Urban League says the real state of Black unemployment is worse than current government figures indicate. Using the December 2008 seasonally adjusted national figure for Black unemployment of 11.9%, League officials estimate that real Black unemployment was 22.8%.

What’s worse, some government officials and economists worry that Black unemployment could reach 20 percent by the end of 2010.

“It is imperative that when we go to work rebuilding America, Congress must specifically address the needs of disadvantaged workers. Those who live in urban America must be included in any job creation program and not left behind,” said National Urban League president and CEO, Marc H. Moral.

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