One-third of black teens unemployed

The Friday unemployment report was a rejoinder to anyone who interpreted the November election results as a sign that America had shed itself of racism.

The disparity for African-American unemployment across ages and sexes continues with the overall black unemployment rate (see topping 11 percent; and exceeding 32 percent among black teenagers.

Prospects for even further job losses among automobile manufacturing and parts could drive the black adult male unemployment rate over 10 percent in the next few months.

The depression has already hit black America. has a set of policy prescriptions to bring economic development, affordable housing and job growth back into those communities.

The high unemployment rates also mask the much larger proportion of African-Americans working fewer hours. Even last year, almost 40 percent of black workers were working less than 40 hours per week.

Although they have not have the ability to testify on Congress like the CEOs of the automakers or Wall Street tycoons, there is one good sign in the way of a magnanimous gesture by Virginia high tech entrepreneur Earl Stafford.

He’s spent $1 million to create a three-day People’s Inaugural Ball at the JW Marriott Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave during which he’s working with the National Urban League and Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to select families facing the economic crisis first-hand through poverty, foreclosure and joblessness beginning Jan. 18.  He’ll outfit them with the finest couture and treatment.

His company Unitech is a great example of how support for African-American business must be the linchpin of reducing unemployment and poverty in African-American communities.

During the Bush administration, the lack of enforcement of labor standards and supplier diversity has meant a stagnation in growth among contracts to African-American businesses.

Stafford stands in marked contrast to the big bankers who expect to be rewarded for displacing homeowners and laying off workers without health care.

He also represents the challenge before African-Americans to rise to the mantle of leadership.   As opposed to expecting a new President to do for us, we should instead appreciate an enhanced opportunity to do for ourselves.


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