News Release

Black Unemployment

Gray wrote “The Novocaine Effect: Obama and Black America” in the recent print edition of CounterPunch. He said today: “Obama said that there’s limited funds at the ‘Jobs Summit’ yesterday, but that doesn’t seem to apply to billions for war. …

“By any economic measure the black community is in a severe depression. Unemployment among blacks was high before Obama took office. For blacks in the 16-24 age group it’s been double-digit unemployment for decades. Nevertheless, in the time between Obama’s inauguration and the present, the unemployment rates for the parents of many of those unemployed youth nearly doubled. As of September, the ‘official’ Bureau of Labor Statistics data show the overall black unemployment rate at 15.4 per cent: 16.5 percent for adult men, 12.5 for adult women and 40.8 per cent for teenagers. Some economists estimate that the actual overall rate is in the 30 to 35 percent range, with the ‘unofficial’ teenage rate far surpassing the 50 per cent mark. These rates remain unchanged even as the overall rate, as of the end of November, has dropped from 10.1 to 10 percent.

“The $787 billion stimulus plan didn’t do much for the unemployed. No targeted youth or adult jobs program was part of the package. The most that the jobless got out of the stimulus deal was extension of unemployment benefits, if they hadn’t already dropped off the rolls. At best, stimulus dollars forestalled some teachers being laid off and kept road crews working. If hiring more cops is a good thing, ostensibly to ramp up their drug war and gang suppression activities, the bill did that as well. It must be noted that the share of public funds to the police-penal state has nearly doubled as a percentage of civilian government spending over the past 50 years and now stands at 15 percent.”

Gray is author of the forthcoming book The Decline of Black Politics: From Malcolm X to Barack Obama and is a weekly guest on “Live from the Land of Hopes and Dreams” on Sirius Radio.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167