Last week, February’s jobs report was released, boasting a decrease in unemployment to 7.7 percent, which is the lowest level of unemployment in four years. What wasn’t mentioned in the report, though, was Black unemployment, which continues to be nearly double the national average. NewsOne investigated why Black unemployment rates continue to hover at astounding rates while other Americans continue to experience marked relief.
Nancy DiTomaso, a professor and vice dean for faculty and research and professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School of Newark and New Brunswick and author, says that equality in the workplace is often obstructed by Whites’ favoritism for other Whites during the hiring process — even by those who claim to support equal opportunities.
As a result, minorities are boxed out of the job market, which is a major reason for the unyielding unemployment rate among Blacks.
According to DiTomaso, the aforementioned racial bias calls in to question whether there is a meritocratic, skill-based job market in the United States.
DiTomaso’s conclusion is based on her book, “The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism,” where she interviewed 246 randomly selected middle-class White people in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Ohio.
“Without Racism” revealed that economic racial disparities are fostered by explicit racism that plays out in everyday events, such as networking and institutionalized racial bias, which is endemic in the jobs market.
“We look too much at the issues of discrimination and racism and therefore primarily focus on Whites doing bad things to Blacks or other non-Whites, but the real dynamic in reproducing racial inequality is Whites doing good things for other White people,” DiTomaso told NewsOne.
Indeed, the unemployment figures show a disturbing trend in terms of the unemployment rate for Blacks. While the U.S. Labor Department said that employers added 236,000 workers to their payrolls in February, lowering the unemployment rate to the previously noted 7.7 percent, the Black unemployment rate was nearly double that of Whites at 13.8 percent.
President Bound By Gridlock or Negligent?
Ben Carson, the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., recently blamed President Barack Obama for the state of Black unemployment:
“I think the best thing that he [President Obama] can possibly do that will help minorities is to enact policies that allow for growth of the economy,” said Carson, according to the Christian Post.
“Because when you look at the employment rate for instance in the African-American community, it’s abominable. And the policies that have been enacted have only made it worse. They have not made it better. So if he really wanted to be a hero in that community, let’s start doing some things that make sense economically and get the money flowing.”
But Dedrick Muhammad, senior director of the NAACP’s Economic Department and executive director of the Financial Freedom Center, tells NewsOne that all elected officials bear some responsibility for the Black unemployment rate, not just President Obama.
“It’s definitely part of the President’s responsibility to lead this discussion,” Muhammad said. “It’s also part of the responsibility of the House of Representatives, part of the responsibility of the U.S. Senate and part of the responsibility of governors.”
Muhammad also said that although President Obama hasn’t focused on racial economic inequality as much as he would like to see, his American Jobs Act would have helped create jobs and would have done positive things to address communities that are disproportionately unemployed.
“In some cases, President Obama has taken much stronger progressive position than Congress,” Muhammad said in terms of jobs. “I, of course, encourage him to use his voice even more powerfully, but I think the holdup right now has been Congress.”
While it is clear that the blame game will never put African Americans back to work, the question remains: what will be done to counter White hiring trends as well as stop Washington’s perpetual gridlock on programs and legislation that our community needs?