Youth need jobs, hope for the future
Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times | April 5, 2011

The jobs numbers were hailed as good news on Friday, with employers adding more than 200,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate ticking down to 8.8 percent. Less attention was given to the downside of these numbers. Black unemployment remains about twice as great as the national unemployment average — and is going up, not down.

What is going on here? To some extent, this reflects the old patterns: Minorities are the last hired and the first fired, and the last to be brought in and the first to go.

But it is more than that. The stepladders that hard-working minorities could climb into the middle class are being dismantled. With the migration to the North after World War II, African Americans flooded into cities and eagerly sought jobs in the growing manufacturing sector. But manufacturing has been in decline since the 1980s, as companies began shipping more good jobs than goods abroad.

Then African Americans with growing educational achievement sought employment in the public sector, particularly at the state and local level. As more equal opportunity opened up, they found work as teachers, managers, sanitation workers, cops and firefighters. But now, layoffs of public employees are spreading, and minorities often are those with the least seniority and the first to go. Latinos and blacks also flocked to the residential, often non-union, construction industries, but these were devastated when the housing bubble burst. (Read more)