The Crisis of Black Teenage Unemployment

Doug Schoen had a great piece in the Huffington Post yesterday about how the real jobs crisis in our country is the result of the erosion of employment opportunities for black teenagers.

Put simply, we are facing something approaching a national emergency that goes well beyond the current unemployment rate in the recession or the more general economic dislocation that Americans have been facing recently. Any objective analysis of the data shows that for the vast majority of African Americans under the age of 21, there are simply no opportunities in our society; not only for advancement, but for any sort of survival.

The implications of this are ominous. Without any real opportunities to participate in American society, the alternatives are truly calamitous for young people and for society at large.

This is what creates the national emergency that I speak of.

We are very fortunate to have avoided so far any social dislocation or unrest. But given the full dimensions of the problem, it is simply assuming too much to believe that we will be able to stay on the present course without some sort of catastrophic result.

Here is the data.

While our national unemployment rate is at 9.6%, African-American unemployment is notably higher at 15.6%. This is unacceptable and requires national attention.

However, most disturbing is that unemployment among black teenagers is an astounding 40.6%, and was as high as 50% last year. If discouraged workers – that is, those who have given up seeking employment – are also included in this calculation, the number of black teenagers without work rises to 70% – 80%.

The whole piece is worth reading.