“Our economy really needs a jolt right now,” President Barack Obama said in remarks at a White House news conference on Thursday, characterizing the anemic economic recovery as having edged precariously close to a state of “emergency” and renewing calls for Congress to pass his job creation bill.
Unfortunately, the president received little help from September’s jobs report released on Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to BLS data, employers added 103,000 new jobs for the month, more than what was anticipated by economists but not yet enough of a hiring pick-up to put even a modest dent in the national jobless rate, which remained stuck at 9.1% for the third straight month.
On average, payroll employment has increased by a mere 72,000 per month since April, a far cry from the 161,000 jobs the economy added for the prior 7 months, according to BLS.
And while the jobless rate for African Americans trended down—from 16.7% in August to 16% in September—black unemployment still remains twice that of whites and 4.7% higher than that of Hispanics.
“Even when you compare black and white workers, same age range, same education, you still see pretty significant gaps in unemployment rates,” Algernon Austin, director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program at the Economic Policy Institute, told CNNMoney.com last month. “Our job creation is just not happening—certainly not at the rate necessarily to bring rapid reductions to the unemployment rate.”
And African-Americans received even more depressing news for the month, as the U.S. Census reported that median household income among black households fell 3.2% between 2009 and 2010. Still more troubling, the total number of Black Americans living in poverty rose 1.6%—the largest increase of any group—once again highlighting the disproportionately burdensome toll the recession and subsequent recovery has had on minority groups.
And with the economy now faced with the prospect of another recession and Congress looking less and less likely to pass Obama’s American Jobs Act, the predicament facing many Blacks only seems to be deteriorating, experts say.
“Something’s come loose,” Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, told an audience in Columbus, Ohio, last week at an event aimed at calling attention to the plight of Black children living below the poverty line. “We are normalizing poverty.”
Indeed, perhaps nowhere is the circumstance for African-Americans more dire than the situation confronting young people age 18 and under. According to data from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, while the percentage of American children living in poverty in 2010 was 22%, the percentage of young African-Americans living below the poverty line was almost twice as high—at 39.1%.
“It’s a very dangerous time,” Edelman warned. “I think the very notion of America is on the line.”