Thursday, July 09, 2009

This job market is not ‘race neutral’

In contrast to whites and Hispanics of the same age group, the wages of black workers 25 to 54 years old are continuing to sink, according to an “economic snapshot” issued July 8 by the Economic Policy Institute.

Over the last two years the weekly media wage of black workers in their prime working years dropped by 3.7% or about $23, while that of whites, Hispanics, and Asian groups of the same ages actually rose. This continues the pay shrinkage of blacks that marked the 2000-2007 business cycle, when the weekly median wage of blacks dropped 0.6%, while other groups received small increases.

The downward trend in income is a crucial element in an overall decline in the social wellbeing of African-American communities since 2000.

That development was described last year in an EPI briefing paper, “Reversal of Fortune,” by Algernon Austin, who heads the EPI program on race, ethnicity, and the economy.

Austin there emphasized the need for “a national strategy for black full employment,” with the goal of having black unemployment sustained below 5%. In May the black jobless figure was 14.7%, 16.6% for black men over 20.

Meanwhile, a popular slogan demands “race-neutral policies.” Too bad that the job market does not conform to slogans.

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