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Without a struggle, there can be no progress. " - Frederick Douglass
Turning Tragedy Into Triumph- Coach Michael Taylor Interviews Frederick H. Lowe, founder of The NorthStar News and AnalysisThe NorthStar News on The Dr. Vibe Show

February 9, 2012

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Jobless Rate for Black Men Comes Crashing Down, But No One Knows Why

Jobless Rate for Black Men Comes Crashing Down, But No One Knows Why Unemployment Rate Drops Overall For African Americans

by Frederick H. Lowe
The jobless rate for black men 20 years old and older dropped dramatically in January, compared with December, but their unemployment rate is still nearly double that of white men, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black men last month was 12.7 percent, down from 15.8 percent in December, according to the bureau. January's jobless rate for black men compares with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for white men 20 years old and older of 6.9 percent.

Unemployment also dropped on a seasonally adjusted basis for black women20 years old and older. Their jobless rate was 12.6 percent in January,compared with 13.9 percent in December. The unemployment rate for whitewomen the same age was 6.8 percent, the same as  in December.

The reasons for the dramatic drop in unemployment among black men and the black community as a whole, however, is a mystery that private detective John Shaft may have to be hired to solve.

“This month’s decline was highly unusual. Part  of this steep drop results from new statistical weighting by BLS. Still adjusting for this change, the large reduction is hard to explain,”  the University of California at Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education wrote in the data brief, “Black Employment and Unemployment in January 2012.”

Algernon Austin, an analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, agreed the dramatic drop in unemployment for black men is a mystery.

"The decline was apparently driven by a fairly strong decline in black-male unemployment," said Austin, who is director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy. "Who hired a significant number of black men in January? I don't know, and I haven't found anyone who does. Analysts would not be surprised if we saw a partial reversal of this number in the coming months."

Despite the mystery, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was clearly elated with the latest figures.

“I am encouraged that for the fourth straight month we have seen improvement in our nation’s overall unemployment,” said Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat. “Now, finally, we see improvement in African-American unemployment. While I am pleased that these numbers have improved, the fact is, unemployment in the African-American community still remains in the double digits as has since the beginning of the recession. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have seen first-hand the devastating economic conditions of millions of American families, which is why we launched our national For the People  Jobs initiative last summer and introduced over fifty job creation bills since the beginning of the 112th Congress.”

In December, Congressional Black Caucus members met with President Barack Obama and African-American business leaders to discuss job creation, according to the organization’s January newsletter, For The People.

President Obama said the latest employment report proved the economy was improving, but more work still needs to be done.“The unemployment rate came down because more people found work.  And altogether, we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs over the last 23 months,” he  said.  

“Now, these numbers will go up and down in the coming months, and there's still far too many Americans who need a job, or need a job that pays better than the one they have now.  But the economy is growing stronger," the President Obama said. The recovery is speeding up. And we've got to do everything in our power to keep it going.”

Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, used the good news to push President Obama's economic agenda.

"Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," Krueger wrote in his blog. "It is critical that we continue the economic policies that are helping us to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused  by the recession that began at the end of 2007. Most importantly, we need to extend the payroll tax cut and continue to provide emergency unemployment benefits through the end of this year, and take additional steps that President Obama proposed in the State of the Union address to create an economy built to last.”

January's overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the African-American community was 13.6 percent, a decline from 15.8 percent in December. In comparison, joblessness among whites was 7.4 percent in January, compared with 7.5 percent in December. The jobless rate for Hispanics in January was 10.5 percent, down from 11.0 percent in December.

The BLS reported an overall drop in unemployment as the nation's non farm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January, and the private sector created 257,000 jobs.

The largest employment gains occurred in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing. Leisure and hospitality added 44,000 jobs, wholesale traded added 14,000 jobs, manufacturing added 50,000 jobs, construction added 50,000 jobs and mining added 10,000 jobs, but government employment changed little and the motion picture and sound recording industry lost 8,000 jobs.

The jobless rate in January was 8.3 percent, compared with 8.5 percent in December. There were 12.8 million people unemployed and looking for work in January. Last month's jobless rate is down from a high of 10 percent in October 2009.

unemployment rates in January 2012

Proposed Rules Could Pose A Barrier To Black Home Buyers

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Federal regulators are considering setting higher standards on new mortgages, a move that could prevent a large percentage of African Americans from purchasing homes, reports the Center for Responsible Lending and the Center for Community Capital.

The new standards also could widen the wealth gap between

Black Employment Ratio Improves

Black Employment Ratio Improves by Frederick H. Lowe
The employment-population ratio for black men and black women 20 years old and older improved in January, compared with December, according to the University of California at Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.

The ratio captures employment prospects more

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