African-American males struggle with unemployment
The unemployment rate has hit an ultimate high for male-dominated industries, like construction and manufacturing. The Labor Department reported construction is down 62,000 jobs and manufacturing is down 61,000 jobs.
The recession is affecting African-American men especially. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for all African-Americans is about 50 percent higher than the entire nation. Recently, it reported that 17.1 percent of African-American men over the age of 20 lead the country’s jobless unemployment rate. Just last month the government stated the nation’s unemployment has hit 10.2 percent and has been the highest since 1983, and economists expect it to rise 9.9 percent.
NPR covered a story about a 53-year-old African-American who is suffering from the job cuts due to the poor economy. Randolph Smith use to manage logistics, inventory and supplies for large companies. He is still jobless and has had no success in finding a new job, since he was laid off last year.
Smith said he still continues to job search.
“[I spend time] going through a lot of the search agents that have brought information or leads to me,” he says. “Following with phone calls, just following up with any new connections that I can.”
Smith has had to cut back on costs such as vacations and going out. He also noted stretching a simple meal, like rice and beans, will go a long way to saving a few extra dollars. Smith says he is making ends meet off unemployment.
Even though Smith is highly educated with a college degree, he used to attend a workforce class run by the Chicago Urban League.
CEO of Chicago’s Urban League, Herman Brewer, says regardless of race, several of men have lost jobs during this recession. However, many black men face many challenges, which have led to their high rates of unemployment.
- high-paying manufacturing jobs
- high rates of incarceration
- limited schooling
Chad Stone Chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains the importance of the bill Congress needs to pass regarding the extension for jobless benefits.
“We’re in a really deep jobs hole,” said Chad Stone,. “The recovery legislation was really important in getting us to the point where a recovery seems to be starting, but we’ll need the additional support for the recovery that will come from renewing the unemployment insurance benefits for next year.”
The bill will add up to 20 extra weeks of aid to prevent almost 2 million recipients from running out of unemployment insurance.
I feel this is a great opportunity for public relations practitioners to communicate and increase the awareness of not only the bill that is needed to be passed to increase unemployment benefits, but the issue surrounding African-American men. More support groups could be developed targeting African-American males, similar to the Chicago’s Urban League. I find it rather interesting how much minorities have been impacted by the recession. Why do you think different ethnic groups have been affected in specific job fields? For instance, many Asian journalists have been laid-off, while African-American men have been suffering from lay offs in construction and manufacturing.