A new Labor Department study finds that not only have blacks in New York City been disproportionately affected by the recession, the aftermath of it all has proven even crueler. Most displaced and disenfranchised African Americans are finding it far more difficult to reenter the workforce than any other demographic. Those recently new to the workplace are finding it virtually impossible to so much as get their careers off the ground.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, well over 50 percent of all blacks from across the city deemed old enough to work were unemployed all of last year, even as the local economy showed vast signs of at least a moderate recovery. Non-Hispanic blacks apparently were likewise viewed as persona non grate, demonstrating unemployment totals dismally on par with those of African Americans.
On average, blacks who have lost a job in NYC or were laid off now spend more than a full year trying to reemerge in a new position, while the average time frame for most whites stands at roughly less than half that time.
David R. Jones, president and chief executive of the Community Service Society, an agency that provides services to poor and low-income New Yorkers, has studied much of the data. He has now emerged with the theory that blacks were overrepresented in the fields that suffered the greatest downturn during the recession, fields such as manufacturing and government.
“It’s being in the wrong place in the economy,” he lamented in a New York Times interview. “So the recovery is not trickling down to these workers.”
Not surprising to many of the most affected, Jones also uncovered several other disturbing trends over the course of his analysis, chief among them the inability of lesser educated and lesser skilled workers to find work for even more extended periods of time. Equally jarring, Jones found that about half of all people holding jobs as security guards and the like had a bachelor’s degree or at least some advanced level of college education.
“But the wage didn’t go up,” he said. “This is a low-wage job. It pays $10 an hour with no health insurance.”
Kevin Starkes, a 53-year-old accountant from the Bronx knows the pinch all too well. He’s been out of work now for nearly four months and in that time has painfully come to form his own hypotheses.
“Employers are getting more for less,” he said. “People who used to get a job with a bachelor’s degree now need a master’s. I just think that’s the state of the economy right now.”
As someone who’s been out of work, at least on a full-time basis since 2009, Latoya Ingram feels Starkes’ pain— and then some. The 33-year-old Ingram, who holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Syracuse University, insists she has sent out more than a thousand copies of her resume and undergone countless interviews.