Breaking into the job market is tough for all recent college grads, but a new study shows that African-Americans have a significantly harder time than their peers.
According to a new report by Center for Economic and Policy Research, the unemployment rate for recent Black grads ages 22 to 27 is 12.4 percent, more than double the 5.6 percent unemployed among all college grads. And even for those fortunate enough to have a job, the study finds that more than half of black graduates, 55.9 percent to be exact, are underemployed, defined as “working in an occupation that typically does not require a four-year college degree.”
What’s going on? John Schmitt, one of the authors of the study, blames racism, a faltering economy and an unequal playing field for the troubling statistic.
“We live in a racist society,” he tells Al Jazeera. “We internalize a lot of views about the way people are that are deeply embedded in a lot of our economic and social policies. It’s extremely complicated, but the first step is that we need to acknowledge that we have a problem.”
While unemployment for blacks has almost always been higher than the national rate, the recession took an especially harsh toll, with an unemployment gap between blacks and the national rate growing from about 4 percentage points to nearly 6 points. And even for those who have jobs, the moribund economy has come with a financial cost.
As the Huffington Post points out, the black jobless rate has been consistently double the white jobless rate for over 60 years. “Combine these two factors, and you get a job market that’s particularly hostile to young black Americans leaving college,” the site reports. “Experts note that a person starting out at a disadvantage straight out of college will face the economic consequences over a lifetime. That’s because as Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, puts it, ‘earnings over the course of a career depend critically on where a person begins.’ If the trend of black college grads facing significantly heightened unemployment rates persists, it’s certainly not going to do anything to help the country’s already-wide racial wealth gap.”
Check out the chart below. This is definitely a hard pill to swallow.
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