Black Unemployment

Black Workers & the Crisis

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Despite what Obama calls a “glimmer of hope,” the economic crisis continues to unfold and reduce living standards everywhere. Vice-President, Joe Biden, told CNN recently that we can expect to see increased unemployment every month for the rest of the year, and the unemployment rate could be over 10 percent by Christmas (the unemployment rate is currently at 8.5 percent). This is bad enough news for working people in general, but how do things fare for Black Americans. Has Obama been the “change” that so many hoped for?

Currently, unemployment stands at 13.3 percent for all African Americans, but is at 15.4 percent for black males. In comparison to these figures, unemployment for Hispanic workers reached 11.4 percent in March (up from 7 percent last year), and unemployment for white workers reached 7.9 percent in March (up from 4.5 percent last year.).

Dedrick Muhammad, senior organizer and research associate at the Institute for Policy Studies notes that black unemployment could eventually reach a rate of 20 percent or more. According to Muhammad, whites have not had the same unemployment rate as blacks currently have since the Great Depression. Unemployment figures are also understatements, given that the figures do not include people working only part time or those who have given up looking for jobs altogether.

In addition to unemployment, African Americans, as a whole, are getting poorer due to developments they have no control over. Home foreclosures are hitting black communities particularly hard, and over the past decade, median family income has also declined.

Capitalism’s legacy of racism continues to oppress African Americans in spite of formal equality on paper and Barack Obama’s promises of “change.” The sincere illusions that many have in Obama, especially those of African-Americans, will be shattered in the coming period. Obama represents the interests of the capitalist class and therefore cannot offer any genuine solutions to racism, unemployment and poverty.

The problems that plague all workers, whether they black or white, Asian or Hispanic, Native American or Arab, etc., are part and parcel of the capitalist system. As one of the most exploited layers in U.S. society, black workers are destined to play a key role in the formation of a mass party of labor and ultimately in the socialist transformation of society.

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