The Longitudinal Consistency of the Black-White Employment Disparity in the Contemporary United States

The Longitudinal Consistency of the Black-White Employment Disparity in the Contemporary United States

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A brief synopsis of data obtained from the years 1958 through 2010 demonstrates the longitudinal consistency of the black-white employment disparity in the contemporary United States. In 1958, the unemployment rate for blacks was 14.4 percent and 6.9 percent for whites and during the 1960’s, very little changed in the likelihood of blacks being unemployed double the rate as whites. This fact was also noted in the Kerner Commission Report on Civil Disorders (Orr, 2009). In 1963, a year of economic prosperity, 29.2 percent of all black men were unemployed, with almost half of this population experiencing long stints of unemployment typically lasting for longer than three months, a trend that continued into the 70’s (“This Far By Faith”, 2010; Curran, Renzetti 201), U.S. Department of Labor, 2010; ch.3).
Between 1972 and 1980, the average black unemployment rate was 12.5 percent in comparison to the average white unemployment rate of 5.8 percent (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). During this time (1972-1980), “…the number of employed blacks increased by 1.3 million, or 17 percent [however], their proportion of the Nation's employed work force— 9.4 percent—did not change, as the white employment level rose by 18 percent” (Westcott 29). At points during this same period, which some have coined, “…stagflation- [because of] a combination of high inflation and high unemployment” (Spielvogel 866), the black unemployment rate rose as high as 2.4 times that of the white unemployment rate (Pinkney 93).
While the 1980s ushered in great change in society, (i.e., The Reagan Revolution, the end of the Cold War, a move toward supply side economics, etc.) the black unemployment trends of the 60s and 70s continued to hinder the economic adv...


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... quarter of a million (214,000) black men and women into the ranks of the unemployed (Kirk, 2010). Of this group of displaced black workers, many had difficulty returning to work especially, those who were 45 years of age or older. Consequently, the rate of long-term unemployment rose to 35.4 percent (Allegretto and Stettner, “Educated”) and by 2004, one out or nine blacks were out of work. In 2006, the unemployment rates kept on this pace, posting at 8.9 percent for blacks and 4 percent for whites. In 2008, almost 50 percent of all Blacks who were able to work were not working (T. Johnson, 2008). Additionally, “from December 2008 to December 2009, the unemployment rate among Blacks increased by 4.3% while the rate among whites increased 2.4%” (Dillahunt et al. iii) until approximately 2.2 million blacks found themselves unemployed in January of 2009 (Logan, 2009).

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