To say that the African-American unemployment is high would be an understatement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the black unemployment rate was a whopping 14.4 percent in June 2012. That's nearly double the white unemployment rate of 7.4 percent for the same timeframe.
The economic recession has hit minority groups particularly hard, with Latinos losing more wealth than any group and blacks struggling with sky-high unemployment. Given that one must be actively searching work to be classified as jobless by the federal government, the unemployment rate is not a reflection of the anonymous masses who've simply stopped looking for jobs during the economic recovery. So why are so many more blacks trying to land employment than whites? Many African Americans, including two readers of the Race Relations site featured in a panel on the subject in The Guardian, say discrimination plays a role.
Race Relations reader Joyce Witherspoon has been looking for work for the past six months. She recalls going in for two job interviews at companies that didn't have any blacks on staff. Witherspoon told the Guardian, "I am convinced that even with my qualifications...they would not hire me." And they didn't.
Another Race Relations reader, Lorrie Brown, says she's heard a litany of excuses from potential employers about why she wouldn't be a good fit. But she's taking the rejections in stride, even though racism may factor into why she's been turned down for work so many times. Brown told the Guardian:
"There is not much I can do about existing perceptions or what the hiring managers prefer or require, I can only redirect my approach, choose to work in a different field, work hard to find jobs in an industry or company that values my diversity and just keep moving."
That's certainly sound advice.
Additionally, some minorities are taking control of their employment predicament by turning into entrepreneurs. Rather than waiting for a boss to pick them from the crowd, they've decided to be their own boss. Of course, that option isn't available to everyone. However, if you have skills you think would benefit an employer, you may be able to offer them directly to the public on your own.
To read more about the experiences of unemployed blacks, check out the Guardian's panel on the topic here.