In the face of all that, Ingram has come to be convinced that race may indeed be playing a factor in all her hard knock luck in becoming gainfully employed.
“I could be wrong, but I’ve had interviews, and they seem really, really interested,” she said. “Then they see me in person and they’re not that interested,” added Ingram, who has been subsisting on the $215 in weekly unemployment benefits she receives. “I think it’s a combination of being black and overweight: they think you are lazy.”
All the dimmed prospects and faded hopes have been enough to erode the pursuits of many blacks and move the Labor Department to create another sector of victims it now terms as “discouraged workers” or those who have given up looking for work after experiencing the traumatization of long term unemployment. Government officials estimate that since the recession hit in 2008, the number of all such victims has more than tripled.
Authorities add that four years ago the number of discouraged black and white workers across the city were nearly on par at around 12,000. Since that time the figures for blacks have increased to nearly 40,000 while the numbers for whites have topped out at almost less than half of that.
Over roughly that same time frame, the city’s overall poverty rate has risen by 1.3 percent or to 21 percent, the largest increase the area has known since NYC officials adopted a new definition for defining poverty nearly a decade ago.
Overall, only 49 percent of all blacks of working age were gainfully employed ending last May, drastically down from the 55 percent that were so privileged ending in May of 2008, a time when the city’s economy was considered to be in high gear. Nationally about 53 percent of all blacks are found to be employed compared to 60 percent of whites.
All this at a time when NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg was trumpeted his city as a place where “private sector job gains are the best in 60 years and represent another hopeful sign for our economic recovery.” Bloomberg added “industries like tech, tourism and entertainment are helping to diversify our economy, and that means all New Yorkers will have better opportunities in the long term.”
Such a time truly does seem fleeting to Bronx native Wayne Nesmith, a 45-year-old clinical associate for Educational Research at nearby Touro College. Nesmith fears his livelihood may now being in jeopardy as funding for that program virtually runs dry.
“I definitely believe it is more adverse for African-Americans,” he said. “But you don’t give up, and you don’t give in.”