Bias in the Recovery of Jobs
The New York Times publishes that, despite reports that New York City has regained all the jobs lost during the recession, the city’s black population has been, to a great extent, left behind. Nationally, the number of black Americans with jobs has increased by about one million in the past year, but more than half of working age blacks in NYC are without jobs.
It takes black New Yorkers an average of a full year to find jobs after they have lost one. Once a worker has been out of work for over 6 months, the Labor Department reports the case as a “discouraged worker” and the individual is no longer factored into the unemployment rate. This means that the unemployment rates, as reported by the Labor Department, may be understating the problem and excluding many blacks out of work.
Some economists (like Dr. James Parrott of Fiscal Policy Institute) explain the lop sided recovery of jobs as a product of blacks simply existing in the wrong sectors of the economy. In NYC, blacks are predominantly employed in construction, manufacturing, or by government agencies, the fields that have suffered the most. This explanation is logical, but is it enough?
Trouble finding jobs is not a problem only for blacks applying to low level jobs and with limited education. Black New Yorkers with college educations and beyond are facing the same issues. Something different than Dr. Parrott’s analysis is suggested by anecdotes, like the one featured in the Times about Latoya Ingram, a black woman, who described positive phone interviews for jobs she was overqualified for and immediate disinterest after seeing her in person. It’ s hard to believe that racial profiling is not a factor in hiring when jobs are few, applicants pools are large, and twice as many black working age citizens in NYC have been without work for over 6 months than New Yorkers of other races.