BY JULIANNE MALVEAUX
The unemployment rate is falling for the third month in a row, and in December about 200,000 private sector jobs were created. The monthly unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that unemployment has declined by six tenths of a percentage point since August. Already, some economists are saying we can expect another decline next month.
I am surprised, however, at the very tepid language that the Employment Situation report uses to describe the increase in African-American unemployment. A rise of .3 percent among African Americans, the second rise in as many months, is described as having “changed little.” It has changed enough so that while some are celebrating gains, African Americans are losing. Indeed, the African- American unemployment rate increased from 15.5 to 15.8 percent.
Black women, it turns out, are losing more than most. While the unemployment rate for adult African-American women, at 13.9 percent, is still lower than the male rate of 15.7 percent, African-American men gained jobs this year, while African-American women lost them.
Why? Nearly one in four (23 percent) African-American women works for government, and federal, state, and local governments are releasing workers, not hiring them. And while some governments will attempt to get the economy moving by creating construction and redevelopment opportunities for men, teachers, nurses and social workers, mostly women, are walking on eggshells in fear of job losses.
Even when we know that smaller classroom size gives a better yield in terms of educational results, school districts are being forced to shoehorn another student or two into already-crowded classrooms because of cost issues.
The data that comes from the Employment Situation report is, probably much lower than the reality of African-American unemployment. When we include those marginally attached to the labor force (stopped looking, etc.), as well as those part time workers that