Something to do with that extra 1.4 hours a week

The latest statistics on how American workers spend their time helps explain why we’ve created National Black Business Month as a way to channel the economic power of African-Americans through their own communities.

The average African-American worker spends 8.6 hours a day working and 0.6 hours shopping.  The average worker in general spends 8.3 hours working and 0.4 hours shopping.

That means we’re working 2.1 hours per week more (so we’re not all watching bad court television shows) and shopping 1.4 hours more. You can find these nuggets in Walls Come Tumbling Down: the State of Black Business, sixth edition.

Seeking out at least one black business per day during the month of August means you’re likely to find firms that you would like to do business with.  On the first day of the month, we suggest starting with a deposit in a black-controlled bank or financial institution. You can find a list of banks at

While shopping for groceries on Sunday, Aug. 2, seek out one or more of the growing number of products produced by black manufacturers.

Black bookstore help preserve our heritage and are the launching pad for new authors.  Make sure you find one on Monday, Aug. 3.

In the 100th year anniversary of the NAACP, Tuesday, Aug. 4 is a good day to renew or take out a membership in a local, state or national civil rights organization.    If that doesn’t seem like a business to you, consider this.  D. Parke Gibson wrote a book called the $30 Billion Negro in 1968.  Now, blacks in Illinois alone have that much yearly income.

We’d like to hear from you about how you are seeking out the businesses that are keeping our culture and neighborhoods alive.   Make a comment on this blog or email us.

If you’re wondering how this impacts you, consider this.  More than 60 percent of the black labor force works in occupations where the average yearly wage is less than the national median.    That short order cook who’s been pleasing customers for decades can be transformed from a minimum wage worker to an employer with the right support to open her own restaurant.  The patient janitor who can fix anything can put five more folks to work with his own maintenance company.  Contrary to stereotype, there’s nothing wrong with our work ethic, just who we’re working for.

We have a statistic in Walls Come Tumbling Down that measures the ratio between black and white self-employment by sex by state.  In some states, whites are four times more likely to own businesses.   Nationally, we would add another million black businesses by achieving economic parity.     And that’s almost the same number as the extra African-Americans who are out of work as measured by the gap in unemployment rates.

The health of black businesses is a leading indicator for black neighborhood health.    Grow the number of black businesses and one will notice gardens tended, houses painted, fewer folks standing on corners, more kids in school with better grades, stronger churches and mosques, reduced prison populations and more people voting.

Instead of buying what’s most expensive, African-Americans and their friends must return to the question that Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. asked in Harlem in the 1940s when he led mass consumer campaigns — how many blacks are being employed when I buy this product or service?

If we don’t ask it, no one else will.


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