With each economic downturn, another layer of permanent Black unemployment is created. The effects are cumulative, and cry out for programmatic attention, but President Obama offers only bromides and moralizing. Wall Street wants deficit reduction, and “what Wall Street wants, Wall Street gets.”
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“With every wave of high unemployment, disproportionate numbers of African Americans are left more or less permanently jobless.”
We can say with confidence that nothing of substance will occur at this Thursday’s White House Forum on Jobs, because President Obama has signaled in every way possible that he does not intend to make any serious commitment to fight unemployment. By serious, we mean serious money. The president has repeatedly warned his fellow Democrats that another stimulus to create jobs is off the table. He has been even more vocal in assuring the financial class that his priority is to bring down the deficit, as Wall Street has demanded. And what Wall Street demands from Barack Obama, Wall Street gets.
The White House is even considering using unspent bailout funds to pay down on the deficit – funds the AFL-CIO wants transferred to small businesses that might create jobs. White House advisors are telling every reporter who will listen that the focus of Obama’s State of the Union Address, in January, will be deficit, deficit, deficit, despite the fact that his own political base is crying for jobs, jobs, jobs.
Blacks are a key component of Obama's base, but you wouldn't know it from his record in the White House. Even when directly pressed, Obama refuses to make any commitment to deal with hugely disproportionate African American joblessness, an historical phenomenon that shows every sign of becoming more institutionally entrenched in the current crisis.
Studies have shown that African American unemployment, income and wealth statistics dipped to Depression levels – and stayed there – with the recession that hit during George Bush's first term. Blacks never recovered, and the Great Recession that began in late 2007 threatens to deliver Black workers to yet a deeper level of Hell.
“Obama refuses to make any commitment to deal with hugely disproportionate African American joblessness.”
The official Black jobless rate of 15.7 percent doesn't begin to tell the story. With every wave of high unemployment, disproportionate numbers of African Americans are left more or less permanently jobless.That means, while general unemployment may ease at some point, excessive numbers of Black workers are ejected from the job market altogether.
In the current economy, Blacks are significantly more likely than whites to be unemployed for six months or longer. Blacks hold a disproportionate share of jobs in industries that are being wiped out in post-industrial America. Since Black family income is considerably less than that of whites, African Americans are far more likely to fall into absolute poverty when they lose a job – a crisis that too often leads to permanent unemployment.
One out of every four residents in homeless shelters, is Black. Skyrocketing Black youth unemployment ensures ever-increasing permanent unemployment in later life. And Black mass incarceration increases year after year, in good times and in bad, fueled by racist and punitive state policies that have nothing to do with crime. Prisoners are not even counted among the unemployed.
Layer upon layer, the ranks of the Black permanently unemployed, increase – a problem President Obama does not consider serious enough for his attention, which is why we should all have a problem with him. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.