Economic recovery? Not for African Americans

Although the official unemployment rate for July stood at 5.9 percent, it was 9.9 percent if “hidden” unemployment – those who would work if they could find jobs – were taken into account, and that’s bad. The situation is even worse when we take into account the fact that the unemployment rate is the same as it was a month ago and the month before that. And it gets worse: In July 10.7 percent of African-American workers were unemployed, as were 7.4 percent of Latinos, compared to 5.2 percent of white workers.

Teenagers aged 16-19 have been seeing a slow, steady decline in the number of available jobs – 600,000 fewer than at this time last summer – resulting in a July unemployment rate of 17.7 percent. The situation is even worse for Black teens, where the unemployment rate hovers around 30 percent. But that number is questionable. Other government statistics show that barely more than 30 percent of African-American teens had jobs in July, compared to approximately 50 percent of white teens – and this despite the fact that a far higher proportion of Black teens need jobs during the summer.

Despite efforts by President Bush, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and corporate crooks to ignore or distort the facts and cook the books, statistics don’t lie. As National Urban League President and CEO Hugh B. Price said in his keynote address to the recent annual conference, “Economists tell us that this recession has been mild and brief. Tell that to African-American cabdrivers and hotel workers, the retail clerks and back office workers who’ve lost their jobs and are mired in an unemployment rate that’s nearly twice the national average.”

Price also presented some statistics. If America had racial equality in wealth, he said, African Americans would have:

* $760 billion more in home equity value;

* $200 billion more in the stock market;

* $120 billion more in our pension plans; and

* $80 billion more in the bank.

If America had racial equality in housing, 3 million more Black folk would own their own homes.

If America had racial equality in education and jobs, African Americans would have:

* 2 million more high school degrees;

* 2 million more college degrees;

* 700,000 more Black folk holding jobs;

* 2 million more of us in high-paying professional and managerial jobs;

* 56 percent pay raise for the average Black household;

* $200 billion more in annual income per household; and in all likelihood,

* 700,000 fewer Black adults behind bars, saving taxpayers $15 billion spent on incarcerating them.

Lastly, if all things were equal in the world of business, we’d have:

* 600,000 more Black-owned businesses, generating nearly $3 trillion more in revenue; and

* 62 African Americans running Fortune 500 companies, instead of just a handful.

The author can be reached at arthur.perlo@pobox.com