The Black job market is imploding, even as the moneyed classes congratulate themselves on having “turned the corner” toward economic recovery. Alarming Black unemployment patterns indicate that “a perfect storm of racial disadvantage” has occurred. “Virtually nothing prevents the boss from acting out his prejudices and greed with impunity.” There’s nothing “post-racial” about the current crisis for Black workers.
Corporate economists have lately grown fond of saying the economy is “turning the corner,” but for African Americans, it’s shaping up as a long and very scary ride downhill. Official labor statistics show Black unemployment rose to 16.5 percent in March, up from 15.8 percent the month before, while white joblessness remained steady at 8.8 percent. The figures are in line with the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute’s prediction that Black unemployment will hit 17.2 percent by the third quarter of this year – the highest level in a quarter century. Not only is the Great Recession nowhere near over for Black America, there are indications that the contorted economy is finding a new “bottom” for African Americans to inhabit.
The sheer speed with which Black joblessness soared into the deep double digits since the official beginning of the recession indicates how tenuous is the Black connection to an economy stripped of all pretense of fairness and reciprocity. If national Black unemployment reaches 17.2 percent in the late summer, as the Economic Policy Institute predicts, that will represent an exact doubling of Black joblessness since December, 2007.
Simply put, the more desperate workers’ circumstances become, the more critical becomes the factor of employer racism. With 5.5 job seekers for every actual job opening, according to the latest data, employers can discriminate in favor of whites to their hearts’ content, while continuing to lower wages and working conditions. It’s easy to casually fire Black people and even easier not to hire them.
The casino economy was (temporarily) “turned around” by the transfer of many trillions of dollars of public funds to Wall Street, mainly through the Federal Reserve. The bankster bailout was carefully captained at every critical juncture by Barack Obama, starting with his rescue of the initial bailout bill while still a candidate. Meanwhile, Black America is going down, drowning in unemployment, foreclosure, gentrification, mass incarceration and accompanying social disintegration. African Americans have the great misfortune to have invested all their political capital and energies in a president who is actively hostile to any measures that would directly address the particular Black condition, even as that condition deteriorates by the day.