Hold Your Applause on the New Unemployment Rate Data

On Friday December 2, the Department of Labor announced a significant drop in the nation’s unemployment rate from 9.0 percent to 8.6 percent. But all the new was not good.

There were 120,000 more people working in November than in October, but more people dropped out of the work force altogether than there were new jobs created.

And while the overall unemployment rate declined, the rates for African American men and African American women both went up. For Black women, the unemployment rate increased from 12.6 percent to 12.9 percent. For Black men, the unemployment rate increased from 16.2 percent to 16.5 percent.

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    A drop of 8.6% in the unemployment rate is welcome news in some quarters. I know that President Obama will take temporary comfort from this decline in the unemployment rate. In addition, the decline in unemployment rate, coming just before Christmas, gives a psychological boost to many employed people, although the unemployed are not so amused!

    Algernon Austin says in one of his studies, that during the past 50 years, black males of working age have been in a state of permanent recession, as far as being gainfully employed is concerned.

    The average unemployment rate for black men age 20 years and above, from July to November is 16.9%. The average unemployment rate for black women during the past five months is 13.1%.

    Unfortunately, the unemployment rate does not tell the whole story. The Employment-to-population ratio is a much better metric to measure employment rate. It measures the proportion of black males and females between the ages of 16 to 64 years who are employed. When you look at employment statistics through the lens of ‘Employment-to-population’ ratio a totally different and much more disturbing picture comes into sharp focus.

    In November, the Employment-to-population ratio of black men was 57.1 and for black women it was 53.8.
    Looking at this ratio in another way, it reveals that the Unemployment-to-population ratio for black men is 42.9 and for black women it is 46.2.

    In fact, between October and November 164,000 black women were unemployed. About two thirds of Black households are headed by women, who are the sole bread winner. They need to work to keep food on the table of their children and to pay their utility bills, in addition to Christmus presents for their children.

    There is untold suffering in Black households across the United States, and that suffering is intensifying.

    We really need to have a national conference on how we can create jobs in the African-American communities in all the 50 states.

    I would definitely like to be involved because I have been doing some research in this area.

    • Many of these new hires were seasonal jobs which accounts for the rise. Also these new numbers don’t take into account at least 300,000 unemployed job-seeking Americans who dropped out of the pool of applicants because their benefits stopped.
      If you add those 300,000 back into the overall figure it should reflect a true figure of 9.4 percent of the total number of people who are unemployed.
      Any kind of job numbers coming out of the Obama administration should be viewed as highly suspect with the 2012 election right around the corner.

      We really need to have a national conference on how to create jobs in the United States of America which includes the Black communities.
      But having a national conference in the USA on how to create Jobs in the Black communities without a comprehensive game plan to address/attack the other vast systemic structural inequality problems in education and housing will be a useless exercise in futility and only window dressing.

      President Obama in concert with the Congress failed to address the bogus foreign trade agreements which have contributed to lost of good paying factory jobs in the USA, and this linear trend started long before Obama took office.
      Note, Obama did nothing to stop this trend.

      So you tell me who is really calling the shots behind the Obama Presidency?
      The same corporate interests who were present in the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II are still present in said Obama administration.
      You tell me who amongst the Obama administration can we honestly presume has the people’s or even America’s best interest at heart? Goldman Sachs bankers? JP Morgan bankers? Corporate lobbyists?

      Obama should have hit the ground running in 2009 with a comprehensive game-plan for a public/private partnership for true job creation in all communities, but he wasted precious political capital with a poorly crafted health care bill because he wanted to make history rather than address the problems of the poor and middle class.
      Sometimes learning on the job can be costly.
      Obama was dealt a bad hand by Geo W. Bush and he played his hand poorly.


    Ronald B. Saunders is correct to say that if the 300,000 jobless are added to the pool of the unemployed it will bump up the figure to 9.4%. However, the practice of deleting unemployed workers from the pool of the unemployed did not start under President Obama. The Department of Labor is continuing a practice that pre-dated his presidency. The unemployed statistics may be incorrect, but it has created a temporary ‘feel good’ emotion in the President and his staff, as well as among a section of the general population.

    Ronald B. Saunders will agree that a big part of our economic woes is psychological. The high and stagnant unemployment figures help to maintain many people’s negative feelings and attitudes about the economy. On the other hand, unemployed workers are having a rotten time right now. The plight of the unemployed has occupied President Obama’s mind from day one of his presidency!

    President Obama should not be held accountable for people losing their jobs. Two weeks ago, I joined the Occupy Columbia group. I share the philosophy of the group, but not their anti-Obama sentiment and rhetoric. A few of the members are college dropouts, and some are unemployed. President Obama has done many things right since coming into office. His ‘Race to the Top’ education program is successful. Even his political opponents have grudgingly said so.

    Two high schools that have won the yearly prize for making the most academic progress have been black majority schools. It was a thrilling sight to see President Obama giving out high school diplomas at Booker T High School in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this year. Over 95% of the high school graduates were black, with a high percentage of black males. It is no accident that Washington, D.C. is one of the few school districts in the nation to significantly increase its reading and math scores at the 4th and 8th grade on this year’s NAEP assessment. The “Barack and Michelle Obama Effect” is working, by motivating African-American students to achieve at high levels of excellence.

    Change in America has always been evolutionary and never revolutionary. President Obama has done as much as he has been allowed to do by a dysfunctional partisan Congress. In January 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. When President Obama took Office, the economy had already shed 4.4 million jobs. When the Stimulus Act was signed into law, 6 million jobs were already lost. President Obama and the Democrats did not cause these job losses. Wall Street and their associates caused them.

    President Obama hit the ground running! On February 17, 28 days after becoming President, Barack Obama signed into law the Recovery Act at a cost of $787 billion dollars. The distribution of that money saved and created between 2 million to 4 million jobs. It helped the Great Recession from becoming the Great Depression! Take away the stimulus programs and the jobless figure would be far higher than 9.4%!

    President Obama and the Democrats had little support from Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives during the passage of the Recovery Act and all other subsequent job creation acts, including President Obama’s Job Act.

    Joe Wilson, the South Carolina House Representative, who publicly called President Obama a liar, and voted against the stimulus bill, has had no fewer than 134 federally funded programs in one of his counties, alone. There are 46 counties in South Carolina! Every Republican Senator and House member in every state in the nation, have had federally funded programs paid for by the Stimulus Act in their state! Republican politicians are happy cutting ribbons and taking photographs of federally funded projects that they voted against! The hypocrisy is so sickening, that I honestly feel like vomiting!

    One of the common criticisms leveled against President Obama is his lack of experience! Gosh! for an ‘inexperienced’ President he has done very well as the Commander-in-Chief! Remember when intelligence information reached the desk of ‘experienced’ people at the Pentagon, saying that there were some people down in Florida, who wanted to learn to fly but did not want to learn to land their plane? Some of these ‘experienced’ people failed to cross the dots and could have prevented the September 11 atrocities. Why didn’t these ‘experienced’ people catch Bin Laden?

    How comes, an ‘inexperienced’ President Obama was the one who told the Bin Laden Compound Raid planning team to take an extra helicopter just in case there was a problem with one of the helicopters?

    President Obama is being blamed for things that he has not caused, but is given no credit for things that he has done right.

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