Dr. Boyce – Black Unemployment Rises Yet Again: Yes, We Are in a State of Emergency

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World.

This month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its unemployment data for the month of May. The unemployment rate for the African American community went up from 16.1 percent to 16.2 percent.  Black males, who already had the highest unemployment rate of any ethnic/gender category, saw their joblessness rise from an astounding 17 percent last month to 17.5 percent this month.

While white unemployment has declined since May of last year (8.5 percent to 8.0 percent), black unemployment has risen (15.3 percent to 16.2 percent).   Black teenagers also saw their unemployment rate rise over the last year (38.4 percent to 40.7 percent).   White teens, on the other hand, had a sharp decline in their unemployment rate (25.1 percent to 20.7 percent).

These astonishing numbers take us back to the statement made two years ago by President Barack Obama with regard to black unemployment.  When journalist April Ryan did a wonderful job of pushing the black unemployment issue to the president, the baffling talking point of the Obama Administration was that “the rising tide will lift all boats,” implying that engaging in policy for the entire country would magically heal the effects of racial inequality in the job market.  The translation was: “Sure black people gave us 18 percent of our votes, but you don’t deserve more than two percent of our time.”

The problem for the Obama Administration is that the “rising tide” logic might make sense on water, but it doesn’t add up in the real world.  In fact, it sounds an awful lot like Trickle Down Economics, endorsed by the Reagan Administration nearly 30 years go.  Economic trickles don’t work between the rich and the poor and they certainly don’t work on matters of race.  This truth has been established repeatedly with the worsening unemployment numbers we keep seeing every single month.

One has to ask this question: Just how high does the black unemployment rate have to be before the Obama Administration and Congress reconsider their policies against engaging in targeted action on behalf of black and brown communities?  If the unemployment rate were 20 percent, would that convince them that there is a problem?  What about 25 percent?  Perhaps there is some hidden law against advocating for people of color?

What makes me saddest is that one only speculates that there is almost no unemployment rate for black men or women that would make any group of elected officials in Washington feel compelled to realize that there might be a problem.  In contrast, when whites were screaming about nine percent unemployment, they were given the attention of a newborn baby.  That, my friends, is White Supremacy 101.

Given that African Americans are taxpayers too, one has to admit that perhaps our tax dollars are not getting back to us.  Wall Street gets massive bailouts and other constituencies have their issues addressed by Washington politicians.  But the glaring silence by elected officials on any matter having to do with race is both symptomatic of political cowardice and also a reflection of a society that is so blind with racism that it feels compelled to deliberately penalize any politician who chooses to address racial inequity.

In light of the fact that the US government decided to boycott the United Nations World Conference on Racism, one must truly ask if the United States is in denial.  Perhaps we are convinced that cosmetic changes, like electing a bi-racial president or honoring Black Music Appreciation Month can override the deep social cleansing necessary to deal with a 400-year old problem.

What’s most interesting about Washington politicians is that solving the problem is never as great of a concern as who gets blamed for the problem.  Well, rather than simply blaming President Obama, we can do what makes sense:  Blame everyone who is not doing all they can to achieve a solution.  This might mean dealing with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Obama Administration, The Justice Department, Congress, the Senate, black community leadership and ourselves to determine whether or not we are demanding that our tax dollars be put to work by helping black men and women find gainful employment.

There must come a time when everyone is held accountable, and all political loyalties are put on the table for negotiation.  If someone is not doing their job in advocating for the African American community, then black folks have no reason to support that official.  The accountability certainly starts at the top, but it must spread to any and all of us who have the ability to access federal and community resources.  Such devastation cannot be allowed to continue and being silent is no longer an option.



  • Drlarry


    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shakka-Zulu/1379420279 Shakka Zulu

      In order to have a home you must have income to support the upkeep of it..If these people are unemployed, how the hell will they be able to afford a house note? Businesses are not hiring on purpose because they want to bankrupt this country..We have seen the shift of businesses being moved from the US to offshore locations, so these corporation will not have to pay US income taxes..This slide was started by Reagan and is continuing under Obama..Obama has given away more money and tax breaks to the super rich and wall street, it will take another two hundred years, at the current economic growth, to be paid back…

  • JJ

    And how high was the black unemployment during Bush? Stop supporting the Democrats. They are to blame for high unemployment.

    • Brook

      Bush was pushing the economy out of control and leading to the financial meltdown.  That’s why his unemployment numbers weren’t that bad. 

    • Anonymous

      Bush inherited a bubbling economy, but didn’t know how to maintain it and therefore led us into the severe landslide of an economy that we have now. While I do not agree with all the steps that are taken by this administration, they are doing what they can to keep from sliding too much further.

  • Anonymous

    Given the black unemployment rate whom exactly are blacks looking to to give us a job?

    Cease and desist with this give me, lend me, can you spare, take me here, take me there, somebody give me a job mentality and make you a job.

    Go here and download you a how to report and perfect your chosen subject matter into a job: http://www.undercoversmart.com/

    Whatever you decide to do black America please stop crying and whining about black unemployment and take the iniative to do for self.

    Sincerely, Enoch Mubarak
    President/CEO Mubarak Inter-prizes

  • Gloria

    This is a time which not only the president must come forward with difinitive steps to deal with the mass unemployment and incarceration of American Black Men, but black men themselves must do what our ancestors did when they were indeed dealing with our peoples free existance, they stepped up made their opportunities and started working with each other. This must happen, the days of thinking the government and/or any other peoples will do what is best for us and our future must die. Drugs, down low, promiscuous males/females, absent fathers, lack of education. Pride in themselves as well as respect for their women and children, are qualities that support a healthy thriving people. These are things that must be addressed by the person themselves in order to create and live in a productive African American society.  Many American Blacks are living respectively and responsibly, working or owning their own businesses and supporting families with strong character.  However we are aware of the tremendous amount of incarcerated black males and the ramifications of a “record” following them for the rest of their lives. Do you think they will ever have consistant employment and live above the poverty line. Our fate is literally in our hands, try to work together to make it happen. 

  • Yepme2

    Dr. Boyce, I have to conclude, the articles you present on your site is for conversational controversy.  I responded to you and others on this site, relative to entrepreneurship and employment.  I have a plan and a method to present an opportunity for thousands of positions, an excellent opportunity for ex-inmates.  As a community unifying with a purpose of fact, without the morality restrictions, nothing can stop the designed results but us. 

    I registered with, The Your Black World Coalition and offered to present knowledge researched and developed for more than (27) years of my time. (No response)

    As for the posting on this site, I have to conclude, a lot of rhetoric without sincereity, I presented the same proposition on this site and provided a contact e-mail address to contact me.  I received (4) responses: (1)-who was interested, at the time and I did not have a contact method at the time, but posted soon after. (1) who responded with his ego tripping concerns, never responding to the proposition, only to thoughts I expressed.
    There are (2) responses that wanted to know about the knowledge.  I demonstrated to them on the Internet and they are sincerely interested in what they experienced.  They recognize the potential

    Something is seriously wrong, when a mind in the community, does research and develop knowledge on methods of generating revenue and employing people and there is very little response.  It proves, you only expressing yourselves on the site to abuse, accuse each other, scoring stupid points and rejection of opportunity, in other words, (Do not really want change)

    This is my challenge to the community, if you are serious, challenge me and checkout what I am offering, it does not cost you any money, only your attention.

    Contact me: udiditb4@comcast.net

  • Anonymous

    We must have a million PEOPLE march on Washington in August (at the new KING MEMORIAL) to demand that the suffering and pain in  black communities is alleviated and addressed. 
    This country wi NEVER take its rightful place in the world without solving the problems it has placed on black people.
    Only a country filled with ignorant white / greedy, supremacists (anti-Christian) would accept and tolerate black male unemploymt at 55% in most urban centers!