A real problem that has been facing the United States for decades is unemployment in the African American community. A look back at the last 40 years has shown that African Americans have traditionally had unemployment rates double or triple that of white Americans. The reasons have not always been clear. There are known problems with some communities that are in impoverished areas. Access to education and training programs is restricted in those communities. This has resulted in a large number of African Americans who do not have the skills or education to get into high paying jobs that will last for a long time and provide stability.
There are many other potential issues as play. The United States still suffers from institutional racism. African American communities have become the targets of police forces. Black Americans are stopped at much higher rates for the same crimes as whites. White employers seem to hire blacks at a much lower rate than other minority groups. It is harder for African Americans to succeed at the higher levels of society because of stereotypes, misinformation and blatant bigotry in some cases. These problems are not easy to overcome. They can be even harder for some people to acknowledge.
The election of Barak Obama as the first African American president gave many people hope that something might structurally change in the country. There was initial optimism that the country would start to be accepting of African Americans as individuals and people instead of a single minority group who all share the same traits. Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened. A black president seemed to only enrage certain groups of people in the country. Bigots and racists began a campaign that continues today to belittle and lash out against African Americans. The country has even seen the resurgence of white nationalist groups and the Ku Klux Klan.
Unemployment in the African American community was terrible when President Obama first took office. It increased during the first few years of his term as the country attempted to recover from the recession that nearly turned into a depression in 2007 and 2008. Unemployment among African Americans reached a peak in 2011 when it hit 16.7 percent. It has since started to come down as the economy slowly recovers. Recent economic data shows that 242,000 jobs were just created. The economy is getting better. The unemployment rate for African Americans is now at a low holding at 8.8 percent.
Although the rate was cut almost in half under President Obama, it is still much higher than the 4.9 percent average unemployment rate for the country. An added problem is that the jobs are not getting any better. The average wages for jobs actually fell by 0.1 percent meaning that they are stagnant. This can make it hard for anyone to survive when jobs are barely paying enough to allow for a decent living even if you work full time. The end result, however, shows that things are improving for African Americans in the country.
President Obama does deserve some credit for helping to drive down the unemployment numbers for African Americans. His administration and others are actively working on solutions to help lower unemployment even more. This might include new low-cost or free education and training programs so that people can gain in-demand skills to work in growing sectors like healthcare. Even the Democratic presidential candidates are putting forth plans that could potentially help to lower African American unemployment so that it more closely mirrors the national averages. It sometimes helps to stop and take a look at what has been accomplished under this administration even if much more progress still needs to be made.