May 19, 2013
Weaker Social Networks a Cause of Black Unemployment, Study Finds
Posted on Dec 15, 2012
Fresh research has convinced scholars that even with progress in education, the black jobless rate in the United States remains twice that of whites because whites are typically better connected to people who can make introductions and are more likely to hear about job opportunities.
“It is surprising to many people how important job networks are to finding work,” said Deirdre A. Royster, a sociologist at New York University. “The information they provide help people make a good first impression, get through screening and get hired.”
By major measurements, African-Americans have been twice as jobless as whites since the early 1970s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011 put the unemployment rate for blacks with a bachelor’s degree at 7.1 percent, compared with 3.9 percent for whites. Similarly, black workers with just a high school education were jobless at a rate of 15.5 percent. Whites were unemployed at a rate of 8.4 percent.
In computer and mathematical occupations, which job training officials report are difficult to fill, the jobless rate was 8.1 percent for blacks and 4.1 percent for whites. The construction industry, which was hit hard by the recession, saw blacks unemployed at 30.4 percent, compared with 15.3 percent for whites.
The disadvantage is undoubtedly a legacy of roughly two centuries of racial discrimination in the United States. Some African-Americans, such as Oprah and President Obama, have for particular reasons been able to break free of the cycle, but many blacks remain members of social and economic networks that have not been assimilated into those enjoyed by middle- and upper-class whites.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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