As High Unemployment Persists in U.S., Blacks Bearing Worst of Crisis

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While unemployment remains a seemingly intractable problem in the U.S., joblessness is far worse for minorities.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate clocked in at 9.1 percent in July 2011 for the country as a whole.

However, for African-Americans, the unemployment rate is at a lofty 15.9 percent, almost double the 8.1 percent for whites (the figure for Hispanics is 11.3 percent).

Since the beginning of the current recession, these figures have climbed from 3.7 percent for whites, 5.0 percent for Hispanics and 6.9 percent for blacks.

According to Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends, between 2005 and 2009, the median household wealth among black households plunged 53 percent, versus a 16 percent drop for white households.

Put another way, the median wealth of white households is now 20 times greater than that for black households.

While the current jobless rate for blacks is below the 19.2 percent mark reached in 1982, there is no assurance that it might not ascend to that level again.

Indeed, blacks have suffered disproportionately in the ongoing crisis, since they have lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs and endured huge cuts in public sector spending. Black teenagers bear the worst of it – their jobless rate is at a staggering 39.2 percent (versus 23 percent for white teenagers).

According to a recent study by the National Urban League (NUL), almost all the financial/economic gains that blacks have accomplished over the past three decades were wiped out by the Great Recession.

The economic collapse is not only thinning the ranks of the black middle class, but has likely condemned millions more to permanent poverty.

The NUL report further indicated that the nation’s housing crisis has disproportionately hurt black home ownership, which “has fallen at three times the rate of white home ownership.”

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