Labor Center launches monthly black jobs report

The University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education is officially launching tomorrow (Friday, July 2) a series of monthly reports that highlight the employment outlook in the black community as national jobless numbers hover around 10 percent and African Americans fare far worse.”I am a man” picket signs carried by striking Memphis sanitation workers in 1968 became an iconic image for the struggle for equality and civil rights.

"I am a man" picket signs carried by striking Memphis sanitation workers in 1968 became an iconic image for the struggle for equality and civil rights.

The Labor Center’s “Black Employment and Unemployment” detailed data brief for June will be available online shortly after researchers assess a monthly national jobs report to be issued Friday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In the Labor Center reports, researchers Steven Pitts, Sylvia Allegretto and Ary Amerikaner will spotlight what they say are often ignored black employment statistics, with the goal of bringing attention to job trends for African Americans.

Each of the Labor Center’s monthly briefs will include seasonally-adjusted employment data in the form of text, tables and color-coded graphs, starting back with statistics for the early rumblings of the Great Recession in December 2007. The researchers will report the latest unemployment rates, as well as the employment-to-population ratio, for blacks based on age groups and gender, and compare those numbers to those for the U.S. population overall and for whites.

Arlene Holt Baker, vice president of the AFL-CIO, said the new report is a timely and welcome resource.

“Given the extent of the job crisis facing the black community, the new report from the UC Center for Labor Research and Education could not be more important or timely,” Holt said. “The economic crisis has created an enormous hole in the American labor market with a particularly devastating impact on black workers, our families and communities. We are deeply grateful to the authors for their timely and thorough analysis.”

Blacks represent almost 14 percent of the nation’s population of approximately 309 million and comprise its largest racial minority. In terms of feeling the recession’s workplace wallop, blacks rank an unenviable first place there as well.

In May, the jobless rate for African Americans between the ages of 16 and 65 hit a staggering 15.5 percent, while Latinos registered an unemployment rate of 12.4. Meanwhile, whites’ unemployment stood at 8.8 percent, and the national average came in at 9.7 percent. Black men of all ages experienced a jobless rate of 18.7 percent in April, with black teens ages 16 to 19 recording a breathtaking rate of 38 percent.

The center’s monthly jobs report is part of the Black Worker Project at the Labor Center and is produced with support from the Open Society Institute’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

Pitts has published extensive research on employment in the black community and continues to focus on its dual crises of unemployment and low-wage jobs.