National data indicates that the share of young black men without jobs has climbed relentlessly, with only a slight pause during the economic peak of the late 1990's.
In 2000, 65 percent of black male high school dropouts in their 20's were jobless — that is, unable to find work, not seeking it or incarcerated. By 2004, the share had grown to 72 percent, compared with 34 percent of white and 19 percent of Hispanic dropouts. Even when high school graduates were included, half of black men in their 20's were jobless in 2004, up from 46 percent in 2000.
With the shift from factory jobs, unskilled workers of all races have lost ground, but none more so than blacks. By 2004, 50 percent of black men in their 20’s who lacked a college education were jobless, as were 72 percent of high school dropouts.
Two factors in particular have impeded employment black for men:
- The high rates of incarceration and attendant flood of former offenders into neighborhoods have become major impediments. Men with criminal records tend to be shunned by employers, and studies have found that young blacks with clean records suffer by associations.
- The stricter enforcement of child support and improved collection of money from absent fathers has been a pillar of welfare overhaul. The system, however, often leaves young men feeling overwhelmed with debt and deters them from seeking legal work, since a large share of any earnings can be seized.
It is clear that the best prevention for unemployment is attaining college-level education. M³ works with boys where they are to give them the future they deserve. Help us to make this a reality for black boys.