OAKLAND, Calif. – The recession has compounded a decades-long problem for black workers, who began the downturn facing a far higher jobless rate than the general population and have fared worse since.
Now experts are worried that many blacks will remain in crisis even as the economy begins to recover, largely because the recession has eliminated so many working-class jobs in sectors like manufacturing and retail that are likely to come back slowly, if at all.
“Across the board right now the job prospects are slim, but for blacks even more so than average,” said Algernon Austin, director of the program on race, ethnicity and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute.
Tariq Mustafa can relate. Mustafa, 30, has been looking for work since March, when he completed a temporary retail job after he was laid off from a hotel position. He estimates he has filed 100 online job applications as well as spending months pounding the pavement and visiting potential employers in person.
He said he occasionally feels that race plays a role in his inability to get a job, especially in this tight job market.
“Sometimes you come in and you ask for an application, and you know they’re hiring because it was on the Internet, and they’ll say, you know, ‘No, we’re not hiring,’ ” he said. “It’s just, it’s that vibe, just how people treat you.”