Black Public Scholars

June 7, 2010

Julianne Malveaux on the Jobless Recovery

by Dr Julianne Malveaux

Our economy generated about 431,000 jobs last month. Good news? Only if you don’t count the fact that more than 400,000 of the jobs were temporary jobs connected to collecting data for the Census. Those jobs won’t last for long and when the dust clears the current 9.7 percent unemployment rate, down from 9.9 percent a month ago, is likely to rise again.

Still, those who are desperate for good news are clinging to the fact that there are more jobs out there. What they don’t understand is that people are looking for something more than a few months of work here and there. Nearly seven million Americans have been out of work for more than half a year. What has this done to their finances?

Of course the situation is worse for African Americans, even though black unemployment dropped from 16.5 to 15.5 percent last month. The 15.5 percent is a modest estimate of what is really happening. The U6 number in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report includes discouraged workers, those working part time that really want full time work and others peripherally connected to the labor market. That number dropped last month from 17.1 to 16.6 percent for the overall population. While the BLS does not report the number for African Americans, using the same relationships, the African American U6 number is at least 25.6 percent. That means that one in four African Americans is jobless!

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