Sky High Unemployment for Blacks With Degrees

by Chris Sturr | April 22, 2009


Another EPI economic snapshot:

Fifteen months into a deep recession, college-educated white workers still had a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.8% in March of this year. The same could not be said for African Americans with four-year degrees. The March 2009 unemployment rate for college-educated blacks was 7.2%-almost twice as high as the white rate-and up 4.5 percentage points from March 2007, before the start of the current recession (see chart). Hispanics and Asian Americans with college degrees were in between, both with March 2009 unemployment rates of 5%.

Some argue that the problem of joblessness among African Americans can be solved by education alone, but at every education level the unemployment rate for blacks exceeds that of whites. The disparities among the college-educated and other evidence strongly suggest that even if the black educational attainment distribution was exactly the same as the white distribution, blacks would still have a higher unemployment rate than whites. Without a renewed commitment to anti-discrimination in employment and job creation in black communities, high rates of black joblessness will likely persist.

See original post for sources and more info.

11 comments

Comments (11)

  1. I would like to see the unemployment rate of black people with Associate(2 year) degrees. I believe black managers and Human Resource workers discriminate against applicants with Bachelor degrees. Especially if they are able to find an applicant with Associate degree and the required amount of work experience. Particularly in a field where one cannot advance without at least a Bachelor degree.

  2. That’s probably the case for the same reason someone would be turned down for a job because of being “over-qualified”. The worker with an associates degree commands a lower wage and is expected to perform comparably to the worker with the bachelor’s degree.
    How about this…Black people…START YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Other black people don’t support you or your efforts?…MARKET OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY.
    I won’t say it’s simple but if you have the heart, the drive and the WISDOM to succeed, then these numbers don’t mean anything. Really.

  3. They don’t mean ANYTHING…except fewer options, which make it harder even for people with “drive, heart, and wisdom.” It’s not as if there aren’t barriers to starting a business (for anyone), and most businesses fail.

    Given the capital, connections, and luck required to start a business, telling someone who is unemployed to start their own business is sort of like saying “Let them eat cake,” no?

  4. I HAVE BEEN UNEMPLOYED FOR THE LAST 4 MONTHS! SORRY TO BE SHOUTING BUT I HAVE A B.A. FROM VIRGINIA TECH AND HAVE BASED MY CAREER IN COUNSELING, YOUTH SERVICES AND NONPROFITS— THINGS THAT ARE NOT HOT AS FAR AS EMPLOYMENT!!!!! I HAVE TRIED TO FIND EMPLOYMENT IN OTHER FIELDS ON THE ENTRY LEVEL– BANKS, BARTENDING, WORKING AT LOWES AND WALMART, ETC. I AM LUCKY TO HAVE A RETAIL JOB THAT ONLY GIVES ME 6 HOURS A WEEK BUT I DO NOT QUALIFY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT FOR WHATEVER REASON IN VA. I HAVE PAST SUPERVISORS AND EMPLOYERS WHO GIVE ME GREAT RECOMMENDATIONS BUT THAT IS NOT ENOUGH I GUESS. I AM REALLY STRUGGLING— I CARE FOR A FAMILY MEMBER. MY HEALTH IS BEGINNING TO FAIL BECAUSE OF THE STRESS– CHANGES IN MY CYCLE AND HAIR LOSS. I AM TURNING 30 THIS WEEK AND I AM SO DEPRESSED. NO ONE WILL HIRE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. This sad, My husband has 2 PhD’s one on business taxation and one in ancient biblical languages and over the last few months he has ben on countless interviews, all say he’s overqualified. he has even tried “Dumbing down” his qualifications, still no job. where does it end?? better yet where does it begin?

  6. I understand everyone frustration, but it doesn’t matter if you have a degree or not. It’s about finding ways to over come your struggle. Some people can’t afford to attend college then there are people that work hard to complete their degree. I completely understand both sides of the spectrum. Try to figure out how to get your foot in the door, even if it’s not your field. Right now it’s about just generating income. People over look volunteer work and networking. Sometimes we feel like we’re to good to do certain things and survival isn’t about pride. Think about those two options. What company is going to turn down free work; if you’re good at it then trust people will consider. Building relationships will allow people to know you better and look out on your behalf. I’ve experience both sides and wanted to pass alone the advice that someone gave to me. Good Luck to ALL.

  7. I would want to take a deeper look at the data. The researchers compared education level (AA/BA/MA) to race and unemployment rates as a whole. What about comparing degree programs (engineering, finance, marketing, media,etc.), race, and unemployment levels specific to various industries? For example, what about comparing everyone in the media industry and then providing a breakdown of the degree programs and race. By using this method, we can effectively pinpoint areas where there are greater disparities. I have a sneaking suspicion that the levels may be about the same, but I like to have all of my research done before I play the race card.

  8. I am a Personnel Director for a small municipality and we are currently hiring . . . and do so consistently throughout the year. The problem I see in my organization is location. This city is very small and a good 20-30 min. drive from the nearest metropolitan area. It is a very rural area (think Mayberry). The cosmopolitan college graduates don’t want to work for “the city” and all of the stereotypes that go along with local government employment. No, the salaries are not as high as most companies because we run off of tax dollars – and there are only a handfull of conglomerates in the area. However, the city is growing and large companies are moving their headquarters and factories in this direction; because of the local workforce and cheap yet substantive properties available. Our salaries are competitive for the area and the cost of living is far cheaper than major cities. My suggestion is to get out of your comfort zones and look to smaller, rural cities for employment in local government (parish, county, or city). The benefits are secure, and cheaper. We offer 100% premium paid by our organization for medical coverage and it is only $50 per pay period for a family (despie the number of members) AND our coverage is outstanding! We have a bevy of great benefits that help to supplement salaries. You may not be working in the field you obtained a degree in and you may have to relocate. However, the job security, benefits, family-oriented community, and cost of living should outweigh any professional vanities.

  9. I think it’s time Blacks start their own businesses. If you’re Black and college educated, but business owners are racist, and won’t hire you because they are ignorant, use your education and expertise to start your own business. That way, you can hire more college educated Blacks. I think the problem is there are not enough Black-owned businesses (especially those by Black women) in America. Perhaps this is because banks don’t give small business loans to minorities, and the government should require banks, especially in a bank bailout era, to answer why minorities are not given loans. I just don’t think Affirmative Action is the answer, it has not solved, nor changed, the unfair White majority our country. Is intervention necessary? YES, by members of the community going to banks, city council meetings, Chamber of Commerce meetings, etc., and demanding why Blacks are un/under-employed, or why Blacks cannot small business loans. Ok, nuff soap boxing for me…;o)

  10. My comment may or may not arrive a few days after the last comment, depending on the moderator here. However, I am a retired Military and Government employee with quite a number of years and work experience behind me and I would like to say to all whom are looking for employment that you can never have enough education or experience in the Job market as long as you leave your experience or the gaining of it to the whims and fancies of an intended employer. Business is geared to the bottom line which is the dollar, and most of them would like to make that dollar at the least cost to themselves. My advice, stop trying to sell yourself as educated and work to get experience from all sources to sell as a productive but reasonable commodity. People are easy to buy, but whether they are productive is the issue. (Yes, I have an AA and BS degree)

  11. My mother has been unemployed since April, and her worker’s compensation has just run out. It’s a very sad and distressing situation, my family has never had “money” so to speak, but it feels as if this recession is giving a big “screw you” to Blacks, even if they have worked their asses off in undergrad, business, or law school. The data speaks for itself, we have higher unemployment and thus higher rates of poverty, education as it turns out is not the be all end all after all…..

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