Guest Post be Kristinn Taylor

Five years in to Barack Obama’s presidency, the number of African-Americans participating in the labor force has hit rock bottom.

black unemployment rate

The news media has ignored this stunning revelation from Friday’s monthly jobs report by the Labor Department.

The exception has been PBS, which interviewed economist Dean Baker who had written about it in a report published Friday.

“The drop in labor force participation was sharpest for African Americans, who saw a decline of 0.3 percentage points to 60.2 percent, the lowest rate since December of 1977. The rate for African American men fell 0.7 percentage points to 65.6 percent, the lowest on record. The decline in labor force participation was associated with a drop in the overall African American unemployment rate of 0.5 percentage points to 11.9, and a drop of 0.6 percentage points to 11.6 percent for African American men.”

Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told PBS’s Judy Woodruff Friday that contrary to those who spin the falling labor force participation rate as mainly coming from retiring Baby Boomers, young workers are dropping out by the millions.

“…it is easy to see the big falloff in labor force participation is among prime age workers, 25-to-54-years-olds. That is down by four full percentage points. That is equivalent to five million people in their prime ages. They are not retiring at age 50.”

The White House fed black media the news that black unemployment was down five points from its 2010 high of 16.9% but did not say that this was largely the result of more African-Americans giving up on finding jobs in the Obama economy.

While black support for Obama is over 80%, some in the African-American community put their desire for a job ahead of their pride in the first black president in the 2012 election. According to Pew Research, 19% of young black men voted for Republican Mitt Romney—a loss of 14% for Obama from 2008.

Economist Walter Williams put black labor force participation in historical context in a column published last April by pointing out that up until the 1960s blacks were as well or better represented in the labor force than whites.

“From 1900 to 1954, blacks were more active than whites in the labor market. Until about 1960, black male labor force participation in every age group was equal to or greater than that of whites. During that period, black teen unemployment was roughly equal to or less than white teen unemployment. As early as 1900, the duration of black unemployment was 15 percent shorter than that of whites; today it’s about 30 percent longer.”

What happened after that? Liberalism–and now Obama.

 

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