Racism, recession diminish job prospects for black graduates

Black college graduates are twice as likely to experience unemployment as their white counterparts, and more than half of black college graduates are underemployed, according to Al Jazeera America’s article on a study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

Recent black college grads ages 22 to 27 have an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent, more than double the 5.6 percent unemployed among all college grads in that demographic and almost a threefold increase from the 2007 level of 4.6 percent, before the Great Recession took its toll on the U.S. economy.

Despite the Civil Rights Movement and equal-opportunity housing, education and employment measures, racism may still be the culprit.

“We live in a racist society,” John Schmitt, one of the authors, told Al Jazeera.

“We internalize a lot of views about the way people are that are deeply embedded in a lot of our economic and social policies. It’s extremely complicated, but the first step is that we need to acknowledge that we have a problem.”

Barriers to education and employment are preventing minority families from becoming homeowners and paying attention to their own children’s education. Their incomes are generally lower and poverty rates are higher.

A PublicSource analysis of Census data showed some of these racial gaps in Pennsylvania are the worst in a half-century.

For instance, less than half of the heads of minority households in the state own their homes, compared with almost three-quarters of white households.

Education gaps in the state start in high school and widen into college: Latino and black adults graduate from college at about half the rate of the state’s white adults.

Community leaders and advocates in Pittsburgh attributed the disparities to political and social trends that put down poor and vulnerable populations rather than protect them, and the relatively new ability by minority populations to build wealth.

Reach Halle Stockton at 412-315-0263 or hstockton@publicsource.org.