The September jobs numbers showed that as the economy added 148,000 new jobs in September, the black unemployment rate dropped from 13 percent to 12.9 percent.
Though the tiny decline is better than numbers going in the other direction, it’s still important to keep in mind that a rate of 12.9 percent is still 3.9 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession.
As David Cay Johnston writes on AlJazeeraAmerica.com, the jobs numbers should be troubling to the entire nation.
“The long-term prognosis is that America does not have — and is not going have — enough jobs for everyone who wants work, at least not under current government policies,” he writes. “Moreover, most of the jobs that have been created during the so-called recovery are low-paying positions, many of them part-time with no benefits. These two trends pose major challenges to social stability, long-term economic growth and eventually levels of crime.”
Johnston notes that while the economy will continue to produce more jobs, it won’t be enough to keep up with population growth. He points out that the U.S. population has grown eight times faster than the number of jobs since the year 2000. To return to the employment-to-population ratio the country had before the 2007 recession, the U.S. would need 9 million more jobs today.
“America needs about 90,000 more jobs each month just to keep up with population growth,” he writes. “That means in September just 58,000 of the new jobs helped reduce the jobs shortfall. At that rate, it would take almost 13 years just to get back to pre-recession levels, which says that the jobs shortage is a chronic, long-term drag on the economy and the human spirit.”
Analysts note that the jobs reports demonstrate that the Washington officials should not let emergency federal unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed expire at the end of December because it would slow the recovery—in addition to slamming families where the adults are still struggling to find jobs.
“If there ever was an issue in Black America which should be viewed with non-partisan eyes it is unemployment,” Cedric Muhammad writes on Forbes.com. “Despite counter-charges between Republicans and Democrats that one is more responsible than the other for economic improvements and setbacks, the 40-year statistical record (the Department of Labor has only kept statistics on Black unemployment since 1972) is that neither political party over that time period has changed the reality that the rate of Black unemployment remains double that of white Americans.”