DCentric » Unemployment http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU Resentment And Race In Reducing Government http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/resentment-and-race-in-reducing-government/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/05/resentment-and-race-in-reducing-government/#comments Thu, 10 May 2012 19:19:37 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=16021 Continue reading ]]>

Zervas / Flickr

The U.S. Postal Service is planning a downsizing, which could disproportionately hurt African Americans,

The black middle class has been hit particularly hard by the recession; many of the economic gains earned over 50 years disappeared between 2007 and 2009.

The foreclosure crisis, lack of accumulated  wealth and the role of a college education in boosting job prospects have all contributed to the decline of the black middle class. Another big factor: cuts to government jobs. Much of the black middle class was built upon public sector jobs, which for decades allowed African Americans to circumvent discrimination in the private sector.

African Americans are over-represented in government jobs [PDF]. So even as the economy slowly adds jobs, government job losses continue to rack up, disproportionately affecting African Americans. Reducing government has been a hot political topic since 2010, particularly with the surge of the tea party movement, which has been accused of having racist undertones. But NPR points out that 70 percent of government job cuts happened in 12 states, all with Republican-controlled legislative bodies, and suggests that such job cuts have fostered resentment among African Americans. From NPR:

What Republicans call an attack on “big government,” many blacks see as an attack on their livelihoods, given their heavy reliance on the public sector for employment.

[Steven] Pitts, the Berkeley economist, calls it “nonracial policies with racialized outcomes.”

The country has 586,000 fewer government jobs now than it did in 2008.

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The Effect Of Youth Unemployment On Crime http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/the-effect-of-youth-unemployment-on-crime/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/the-effect-of-youth-unemployment-on-crime/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 16:44:39 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15784 Continue reading ]]>

puamelia / Flickr

Reducing unemployment among D.C.’s young people will help reduce crime, according to a new report by D.C. think tank Justice Policy Institute.

The group, whose mission is to lower the incarceration rate, found that neighborhoods with high crime rates also have high unemployment rates, particularly among young people. A previous report found a similar connection between boosting education levels and public safety.

D.C. has an unemployment disparity, in which joblessness is very low in wealthy neighborhoods, while low-income neighborhoods have Depression-era unemployment rates. The Justice Policy Institute report also showed how unemployment is chronically high in places with a lot of crime:

Courtesy of Justice Policy Institute

Youth workers, teachers and activists often point to jobs as a way to keep youth busy and out of trouble. The authors note that not having a job can lead “to feelings of worthlessness, futility and disenfranchisement.”

But preparing young people to get hired is another matter. Although there are quite a number of jobs in the District, more than half require a bachelor’s degree. From the report [PDF]:

For young people from economically depressed areas in D.C., developing survival skills such as avoiding violence, finding a meal, and staying out of trouble may have taken precedence over honing other marketable workforce skills more valuable to employers. As compared to their more advantaged peers who may have received more preparation from their family, school and overall community environment, youth from low-income areas of the District may need additional guidance to meet the expectations of the workplace.

The report includes some recommendations, including matching young people to programs in fields they’re interested in and getting employers to hire young people who have completed job programs, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

We’ve previously explored the impact of high unemployment and communities, finding that it contributes to a cycle of crime. Also, people with criminal records find it very difficult to get hired. About 10 percent of District residents have a criminal record.

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Unemployment Down For Whites, Up for Blacks, Hispanics http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/unemployment-down-for-whites-up-for-blacks-hispanics/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/03/unemployment-down-for-whites-up-for-blacks-hispanics/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2012 14:57:54 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=14603 Continue reading ]]>

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Job seekers wait in line to attend a job fair in New York City on Jan. 26.

The national unemployment rate remains unchanged at 8.3 percent, but unemployment dropped slightly for whites while it rose for African Americans and Hispanics, according to data released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment among whites dropped from 7.4 percent in January to 7.3 percent in February. For blacks, it rose from 13.6 to 14.1 percent. The Hispanic unemployment also slightly rose, from 10.5 to 10.7 percent. The bureau doesn’t have seasonally-adjusted unemployment data for Asians. Unemployment among immigrants rose from 9.7 to 10 percent while it dropped for U.S.-born citizens, from 8.2 to 7.8 percent.

Although overall unemployment didn’t change between January and February, the economy did see the addition of 227,000 new jobs. Unemployment didn’t drop largely because more people entered or returned to the labor market after giving up looking for work. The rate measures how many people in the labor market don’t have jobs.

Data on local unemployment rates, including D.C., will be released Tuesday. The latest unemployment figure for D.C. is 10.1 percent, higher than the national average.

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State of the Union: DCentric Outtakes http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/state-of-the-union-dcentric-outtakes/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/state-of-the-union-dcentric-outtakes/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 15:13:34 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13623 Continue reading ]]>

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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama devoted much of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address to leveling class disparities between the middle class and the very rich.

He didn’t embrace the rhetoric of the Occupy Movement – namely that 99 percent of Americans are suffering while 1 percent hold the wealth. But the president did say that 98 percent of Americans make less than $250,000, and that their taxes shouldn’t go up. Raising taxes on the wealthy is an issue with local relevance; the D.C. Council in 2011 narrowly approved a tax hike on those making $350,000 or more a year.

President Obama pushed for a resurgence of American manufacturing to combat joblessness. He also said there are available jobs in the technology and science industries, but not many people are qualified to fill them. Such a “skills gap” exists in D.C., where many of the unemployed lack the credentials needed to fill available jobs. President Obama made a “national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.” That commitment may be easier said than done. D.C.’s job training programs have been fraught with problems and don’t always lead to jobs. There are current efforts underway to reform them so such programs are more effective.

Immigration also had a brief moment during the State of the Union address. Deportations have reached record levels under President Obama. He called for “comprehensive immigration reform” but failed to give specifics. He did, however, urge the passage of the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for undocumented college students and soldiers.

The issue of race was barely mentioned, with President Obama focusing mostly on class issues, despite the fact that class disparities fall sharply along racial lines. For instance, the black unemployment rate is more than double the white unemployment rate. Here’s the most explicit mention of race, and it came as President Obama directly addressed members of Congress:

Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops.  When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight.  When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails.  When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

Do you think race should have been more directly addressed? What are your thoughts on Tuesday night’s State of the Union address? You can read the entire speech here.

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Examining D.C.’s Dropout Crisis http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/examining-d-c-s-drop-out-crisis/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/examining-d-c-s-drop-out-crisis/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:26:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13592 Continue reading ]]>

Rosa Say / Flickr

One reason why some parts of D.C. have such high jobless rates is that many of the unemployed lack the skills and credentials to qualify for D.C.’s jobs. While most available jobs require a bachelor’s degree, 21 percent of people living in Ward 8 haven’t even completed high school.

Dropping out of high school has far-reaching effects on one’s life, family and community. WAMU 88.5′s Kavitha Cardoza reports on why people leave school in her examination of D.C.’s dropout crisis. In her first installment, she profiles a family with a history of dropping out:

The causes and consequences of dropping out are often intertwined. Low-income students are more likely to drop out, which means they can’t get jobs that pay well and continue lives of poverty.

Four generations of Walker’s and McMillan’s family haven’t graduated from high school. They have many of the risk factors for dropping out, including learning disabilities, teen pregnancy, and drug abuse. And it’s not clear whether or how the cycle could be broken.

The story, which you can read here, is the first of a nine-part series.

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Job Training and D.C. Unemployment By Race http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/d-c-unemployment-by-race-and-job-training/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/d-c-unemployment-by-race-and-job-training/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2012 13:00:02 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13555 Continue reading ]]> WAMU 88.5′s Patrick Madden has been reporting on the ineffectiveness of past D.C. job training practices and changes the city is making to how it prepares residents for jobs. His investigation revealed that much of job training money went to training people to be bus drivers and Metro train operators. But such training programs haven’t resulted in graduates getting jobs.

The debate over job training has particular relevance for D.C.’s black and Hispanic communities. This chart shows 2010 D.C. unemployment rates by race, with the numbers coming courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics [PDF]:

D.C. Unemployment By Race (2010)


DCentric has previously explored the causes behind D.C.’s unemployment disparities. One major reason is the mismatch between the skills people have and those required by District jobs. For instance, unemployment is at 25 percent in Ward 8, where more than 20 percent of residents lack a high school diploma. Without effective job training, can that unemployment number go down by very much?

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The Problem with Job Training in the District http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/the-problem-with-job-training-in-the-district/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/the-problem-with-job-training-in-the-district/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 16:16:23 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13490 Continue reading ]]>

Mike Bitzenhofer / Flickr

Unemployment in D.C. varies. In some parts of the District it’s 3 percent, while in others its 25 percent. The explanation to such high and uneven unemployment is complex, but one central reason is the majority of the available jobs in the District require skills and education that many of the unemployed lack. Job training is seen as a logical solution to this “skills gap.”

But job training programs have to be done right. WAMU 88.5′s Patrick Madden reports on problems with the District’s job training contracts. In one instance, the city was paying double per trainee than what nearby states paid. In another, the District gave a job training school $500,000 to train 70 people. The school, which is no longer running, is now embroiled in legal troubles; a private consulting firm has accused the school’s owner of misusing funds.

Such questionable contracts not only raise concerns over how the city uses its money, but also over the effectiveness of its job training system. DCentric has written about individuals who had trouble finding work after completing such job training programs.

Job training programs can be effective for some people, but such programs alone can’t reduce overarching unemployment disparities. For instance, 10 percent of D.C. residents have criminal records. For those individuals, no amount of job training can erase the challenge of getting hired with a past conviction.

You can listen to Madden’s full report here.

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Unemployment Down, 200,000 Jobs Added to Economy http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/unemployment-rate-down-200000-jobs-added-to-economy/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/unemployment-rate-down-200000-jobs-added-to-economy/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2012 16:24:08 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13203 Continue reading ]]>

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Job seekers wait in line to enter the San Francisco Hire Event job fair on November 9, 2011. National unemployment was 8.6 percent in November.

The national unemployment rate dropped in December and 200,000 new jobs were added to payrolls, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday. Unemployment stands at 8.5 percent, down from 8.6 percent.

D.C.’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 10.2 percent in November as the District saw the addition of 3,200 new jobs. Despite the good news, the District’s unemployment rate is still higher than the November 2010 rate of 10 percent. December unemployment figures for D.C. aren’t available yet.

A number of reasons are behind the District’s higher-than-national-average unemployment rate. Joblessness is much higher in wards of the city with high poverty rates and where fewer people have college degrees. The gap between skills and available jobs, as well as the difficulty of finding a job for those with criminal records, have made it difficult to combat unemployment in the District.

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Unemployment Rates By College Majors http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/unemployment-rates-by-college-majors/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/unemployment-rates-by-college-majors/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 17:38:39 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13164 Continue reading ]]>

Kris Connor / Getty Images

Students wave to video cameras during the 2010 George Washington University commencement on the National Mall.

Your chances of getting a job depend greatly on your major. A Georgetown University study released Wednesday shows that unemployment rates among college graduates are highest for those who majored in architecture, arts and the liberal arts.

Some want to address D.C.’s high unemployment by getting more District youth to go to college; unemployment is 26 percent in Ward 8, where half of adults stopped their schooling at high school. That’s the impetus behind a new D.C. proposal requiring all District high school students to take a college admission exam. But these unemployment figures show that simply getting a college degree won’t be enough to prevent you from being unemployed. There’s also a racial disparity: young black college graduates face double the unemployment rate than white college graduates.

Here are the recent college graduates with the highest unemployment rates:

  1. Architecture: 13.9%
  2. Arts: 11.1%
  3. Humanities and liberal arts: 9.4%
  4. Social science: 8.9%
  5. Recreation: 8.3%
  6. Computers and mathematics: 8.2%
  7. Law and public policy: 8.1%
  8. Life and physical science: 7.7%
  9. Engineering: 7.5%
  10. Business: 7.4%
  11. Communications and journalism: 7.3%
  12. Psychology and social work: 7.3%
  13. Agriculture and natural resources: 7%
  14. Health: 5.4%
  15. Education: 5.4%
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Five Takeaways from ‘Division of Labor’ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/five-takeaways-from-division-of-labor/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/five-takeaways-from-division-of-labor/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2011 20:21:38 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=12882 Continue reading ]]> D.C.’s job market attracts people from around the country, yet sections of D.C. are facing Depression-era unemployment rates. DCentric examined the causes of the jobless disparity in a series of stories last week. If you missed “Division of Labor,” check out this breakdown of our five main takeaways:

The District is home to stark disparities.

The numbers speak for themselves: unemployment is almost 3 percent in Ward 3, and more than 26 percent in Ward 8; more than half of Ward 3 residents have post-bachelor’s degrees, while nearly half of Ward 8 residents only have high school diplomas.

Simply creating more jobs won’t be enough to reduce the disparity.

In D.C., the problem isn’t that there aren’t enough jobs. Many of the available jobs in the District are out of reach for those facing chronic unemployment because of the high qualifications they require.

Getting arrested creates a cycle of unemployment.

It’s much harder to get a job if you’ve been to prison, and that’s of particular pertinence in D.C., where one in 10 residents has a criminal record. A number of suggestions have been proposed to make it easier for former offenders to get hired, but the stigma of being a former felon is still difficult to overcome.

Evening out the divide may take decades, but some efforts can be made now.

The solution, some of you have noted, is improving education so D.C.’s young people will be able to compete for the professional jobs. But  improvements to education can take years to accomplish, and in the meantime, there are number of adults suffering from unemployment. D.C. agencies and nonprofit groups are focusing on helping adults in numerous ways, including offering job counseling, providing adult education oand specialized training programs. Although unemployment still remains high, these efforts provide valuable resources to the jobless.

People have hope.

Many of the unemployed interviewed for “Division of Labor” spoke with hope about their futures, despite documented disparities and dim prospects. Communities facing high unemployment are also home to motivated individuals, whether it’s the single mother going back to school to get her GED certificate or the teenager who’s preparing to go to college.

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