Unemployment is bad for everyone, but it’s doubly bad for black Americans. That’s because the unemployment rate among black job-seekers is roughly twice the rate for whites — and has been since the government started keeping track of the disparity more than 40 years ago.
As of July, the unemployment rate among blacks was 7.4 percent, compared with 3.8 percent for whites. Here in liberal Massachusetts, the same disparity exists.
There is no simple explanation for this gap. It’s not because black workers are less educated, or less likely to marry, or happen to live in struggling parts of the country. Researchers have tried adjusting for all of these variables, but still there remains some unexplained force holding African Americans back in the labor market. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it must be related to the lingering legacy of racial discrimination.
This poses a problem for the idea — recently raised by President Trump — that the solution to our country’s racial divide is more jobs. That could certainly help. But jobs in America seem to get divvied up according to an unequal logic, with whites generally coming out on top. (Boston Globe)