Study Shows Depth of Unemployment for Blacks in New York

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The New York Times
By: Steven Greenhouse
December 13, 2010

The headline on a new report tells the bad news: "Only One in Four Young Black Men in New York City Have a Job." The report, prepared by the Community Service Society of New York, has other unhappy news about this group -- that the unemployment rate for African-American men in New York, age 16 to 24, was 33.5 percent from January 2009 through June 2010, while the labor force participation rate was 38 percent.

"The recession has created a landscape of the unemployed and underemployed with particular catastrophic consequences for young African-American men," said David R. Jones, president of the Community Service Society, an advocacy group for New York's low-income residents. "Now young black men between 16 and 24 years have become the banner of hopelessness, particularly here in New York City."

The report, written by Michelle Holder, a labor market analyst with the Community Service Society, noted that during the recession that began in December 2007, working-age black men suffered an especially large increase of unemployment. The jobless rate for that group jumped to 17.9 percent in 2009 from 9 percent in 2006. Among young men of all races, age 16 to 24, the overall jobless rate rose to 24.6 percent during the recession.
The report, entitled "Unemployment in New York City During the Recession and Early Recovery," noted that the jobless rate for Hispanic men, age 16 to 24, rose to 24.7 percent during the recession, while their labor force participation rate was 42 percent. For all men age 16 to 24 in New York City, the jobless rate was 22.4 percent during the period studied, while the labor force participation rate was 42 percent. According to the report, women with less than a high school diploma had the lowest labor force participation rate of any group: 28 percent.

The group with the lowest jobless rate during the recession and the early part of the recovery -- the recession ended in June 2009 -- was Asian women, age 55 to 64. Their unemployment rate in 2009 was 4.5 percent, the report found.

Nearly 40 percent of black New Yorkers who had held a job previously were unemployed for more than 12 months during the recession and early part of the recovery. That compared with 24 percent for whites, 27 percent for Latinos and 26 percent for Asians. For men aged 55 to 64, 34 percent were unemployed for more than a year.

In one especially grim finding, the report noted that among black men in New York City age 16 to 24 who do not have a high school diploma, just one in 10 had a job. Ms. Holder wrote that the findings of her report were disturbing "because young African-American men without a job and without an adequate education become at-risk for involvement in the criminal justice system."

She added, "We need to ensure that young men of color in New York City are achieving the basic educational requirements to either get a decent job or go on to college if they so choose."

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