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Here’s Why Black Unemployment Has Gone Through The Roof
Grace Wyler | Sep. 2, 2011, 1:25 PM | 28,506 | 113
The public sector is the most important source of employment for African-Americans and a key source of high-paying jobs, especially for black women, according to a study by the U.C. Berkeley Department of Labor. African-Americans are 30% more likely to hold government jobs than other workers; from 2008-2010, 21.2% of black workers were employed in the public sector, compared to just 16.3% of non-black workers.
The numbers explain why African-Americans have been hit so much harder by government budget cuts and layoffs than their non-white counterparts. The black unemployment rate was a staggering 16.7% in August — double the 8% unemployment rate for whites. The white unemployment rate has actually fallen, down from 8.7% last year, while the black unemployment rate has risen from 16%.
At the same time, the public sector continues to eliminate jobs, including 17,000 in August alone. Overall, government employment has dropped by roughly 600,000 since 2008.
The ongoing contraction of state and local governments suggests that the black unemployment trends aren’t likely to reverse any time soon. The prospect is perhaps most alarming for black youth, 46.5% of whom are now unemployed.