A Wider View

by Secretary Hilda Solis on June 9, 2011 · 11 comments

On the first Friday of every month, I report on the nation’s employment situation.  The data is important, and politicians, policymakers and the public take it all very seriously, as well they should.  But I constantly remind people that the data in the monthly report is a snapshot  . . . and that we need to take a wide look at the numbers to see the full picture.

Last week’s employment report is a good example.  While our rate of job growth slowed in May, we did add 83,000 private sector jobs.  But look at it more broadly: We’ve now had 15 straight months of private sector job growth and added 2.1 million jobs since February 2010.

Getting the big picture and taking a wide view of the trends is important, especially when we drill down into the data:  What’s happening with women in the labor force?  How are African Americans and Hispanics faring?  What’s the story on youth employment?

That’s why we recently produced in-depth reports that examine the status of women and Hispanics in our labor force.  Our newest report, The Black Labor Force in the Recovery, came out earlier this week.  All three highlight how vulnerable demographic groups have fared in our economic recovery; and detail the investments and policy initiatives we’ve put in place to support their advancement.

Black Unemployment by State — 2010 Annual Averages. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2010 annual average data.

The unemployment rate for black workers remains unacceptably high at 16.2%.  African American workers are more likely to work in the public sector than either white or Latino workers, so they’ve faced more of the burden of the continuing loss of state and local government jobs. Black employment took the largest hit in manufacturing, financial activities, wholesale/retail trade, transportation/warehousing, and construction.  But industries like transportation, warehousing and health care employ a large share of black workers and are growing.  We need to match the skills needed in these areas to more African American workers, and then match those people to the growing number of jobs in those industries.

We also know that jobs in professional and technical services are expected to grow the fastest by 2018, but blacks are underrepresented in these industries.  Again, we need to match skills with workers, and then match these workers with real jobs.   

The report spotlights a particular concern for me: the high rate of black teen unemployment.  In May 2011, the black teen unemployment rate was 40.7%. While this rate is still unacceptably high, it is improving, having come down from nearly 50%. And there is a bright spot: more African-American youth are staying in school and going to college.  More education means less unemployment and higher wages.     

I understand the severity of the employment challenges faced by African-Americans. The President does too.  The administration has taken a number of steps to help get more black workers into jobs.  The report provides a summary of my agency’s efforts to turn the numbers around.  It is an impressive record of achievement, but we still have much work to do.

The challenge we face is to ensure that economic recovery includes all communities. For me, that means ensuring that our programs and grants are inclusive and provide opportunity for a diverse American workforce.  We’re doing that.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 eric peipelman June 9, 2011 at 11:43 am

Nice job, love the detail, WHERE is more information:

Asian Americans
Native Americans
Males

I use this to mentor and build ideas for an individuals future job potential.

2 Donnette McFarlin June 10, 2011 at 2:55 am

Secretary Hilda Solis,
Your article about ‘The Black Labor Force in the Recovery’ and ‘The unemployment rate for black workers remains unacceptably high at 16.2%’, I found the article to be a joke. Especially the quote of President Obama ‘I understand the severity’ when in actuality the DOL has caused this percentage to be so high, in reference to Blacks. Refer to Workers Comp Case #132170834. I was injured with an accepted claim then without justification my case was closed with no assistance with re-employment and/or any further medical care. Now my present medical condition (On the Job Injury) hinders employing agencies from hiring me. Yet, you understand the severity, Please. My only recourse has been WELFARE & FOOD STAMPS. Yes, you may understand the severity but I’m living it.
Donnette McFarlin

3 Donnette McFarlin June 10, 2011 at 3:11 am

Cont.
Did I fail to mention in the previous comment that the agency (Dept of VA ) that caused the injury refused to re-hire me in California.
Secretary Hilda Solis,
Your article about ‘The Black Labor Force in the Recovery’ and ‘The unemployment rate for black workers remains unacceptably high at 16.2%’, I found the article to be a joke. Especially the quote of President Obama ‘I understand the severity’ when in actuality the DOL has caused this percentage to be so high, in reference to Blacks. Refer to Workers Comp Case #132170834. I was injured with an accepted claim then without justification my case was closed with no assistance with re-employment and/or any further medical care. Now my present medical condition (On the Job Injury) hinders employing agencies from hiring me. Yet, you understand the severity, Please. My only recourse has been WELFARE & FOOD STAMPS. Yes, you may understand the severity but I’m living it.
Donnette McFarlin

4 Irvin Fitzgerald June 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

African American workers are not only underrepresented in the private sector, but also in the Federal sector. Blacks are over looked for federal positions due to “nepotism” on an acquaintance level. Many blacks, such as myself hold private sector skills that can be translated into federal knowledge, skills, and abilities; but remain overlooked because we don’t know the right people or because we only carry a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Personally, I do not have the funds to obtain an MBA that may help me advance. Frankly, who’s to say that after I take out a student loan that I will better qualify for a higher position? As a black disabled veteran with a BSBA in Management I have managed to gain federal employment, but I am paid significantly lower than a Secretary. In my current position I handle five programs: Procurement, Property, Logistics, Fleet, and Printing. I have no assistant, but find that SSA has a assistant that equals my pay. Again, I have no assistant, I do the work alone, but I’m salaried at a level of an assistant. This goes to say that more prominent positions are trended towards whites while positions requiring real labor are funneled to blacks because they carry a lower grade. Everyone deserves equal pay especially if they do the same job as another agency or person. A Regional person in my position that is getting paid less than assistants, secretaries, and District Offices leaves me dumbfounded being that this position also serves as business advisor for said programs; but our mission is equality for all in the workplace?

5 Rosana Hicks June 10, 2011 at 9:38 am

Last year in March 2010 I was discharged from the United States Post Office due to, as stated by management, to attendance violation. I was a career employee with 14 years as a city letter carrier plus a proud veteran of the U. S. Navy. Management knew that I had had a terrible fall down concrete steps in December 2005 and they were well aware of my daughters’ cancer returning. I believe the primary reasons was due to a grievance of my supervisor’s activity. My supervisor had been removing overtime from my clock rings. I continually requested that I be paid all the overtime that was removed. I never received the overtime. Instead the supervisor began removal procedures while the manager was on vacation. I was devastated. I was discharged within 10 weeks of the initial process. As an African-American woman I surely know first hand of the dangers of being in a workforce dominated by men in upper management. It was further devasating to learn that a female coworker who has had numerous absences throughout the years that were not job related, was given two years probation. She is white. I have lost everything but my home. I have bills that I never knew would come my way. Black woman, in my opinion are treated more harshly and degrading than any other ethnic group. It is sad but true. I am still fighting to get my job back and will not stop until I do. I have been a hard working woman all my life. I cannot give up hope…

Sincerely,
Miss Rossana Hicks

6 carol murray June 10, 2011 at 11:26 am

If there is a constant increase in jobs I would like to know where? The only reason the unemployment rate drops weekly, I feel, is that these benefits are expiring on a weekly basis, thus causing a drop of people from the unemployment records. A creation of 80,000 jobs is nothing when you look at this over 50 STATES.

Maybe it’s time for our elected officials to give up their salaries for 6 months or more, while STILL IN OFFICE, pay job expenses and basic living from their own sources, and see how the unemployed and under-employed live. There is no more “Middle Class” stereotype. Most people lose their jobs due to the “greed” of corporations, and a theory of “DO MORE WITH LESS” employees, and get every “freebie” they can from the government at the same time. This is particularly true when it comes to being over 50! Younger help is CHEAPER and WILL NOT STAY, therefore, less benefits are used. HOWEVER, EVERYONE GETS OLDER NOT YOUNGER!

7 Suzanne Bibb June 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

It’s not justAfrican-Americans slipping through the cracks. My 54 year old white male brother has been unemployed now for 2 years. He has put in numerous applications not only in the private sector, but with the federal government. We see the same job requisition for months on end that are closed one week and reopened the next. What is up with that?

8 Carol August 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I am a white female with an advanced degree and over 20 years of successful work experience. I have been looking for work now for over a year and a half. I have applied for over 200 positions and have received 4 interviews without a job offer. Worse yet, the rate of receiving any acknowledgment that an organization received my application is about 30 percent. Of these, I have received messages that I was not chosen from around 20 percent.

I can’t help but feel that if things are this difficult for me, it must be much harder for those in the categories of higher unemployment rates. My biggest concern is that it seems that any and all fair hiring practices have gone completely out the window in this economy. More and more I hear – “it’s who you know”. Many of the positions I have applied for have later been filled by people with MUCH less experience which makes me wonder how on earth they are choosing applicants. If the process were fair and everyone was on an equal playing field, I am sure the statistics would start to change as well.

9 dcuo cash August 25, 2011 at 2:56 am

I can’t help but feel that if things are this difficult for me, it must be much harder for those in the categories of higher unemployment rates. My biggest concern is that it seems that any and all fair hiring practices have gone completely out the window in this economy.

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