Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

5Apr/140

‘One Nation Underemployed’ Shows Blacks Still In Crisis

From NPR:  The National Urban League's new "State of Black America" report finds that African-Americans are still struggling to find jobs, but there's plenty they can do to recover from the recession.

MARTIN: Thank you so much for joining us, Professor Overton. So, Marc Morial, the report is titled "One Nation Underemployed." Why do you focus on underemployment? And I mean, one of the issues we've been reporting on quite extensively in recent years is that the unemployment rate for African-Americans and Latinos has been consistently high. So why are you focusing on underemployment?

MORIAL: Underemployment is sort of a component of the economic challenges we face. So underemployment means a person may be working but - for example, they may be in a full-time job, but want to work in a - or maybe in a part-time job - may want to work in a full-time job. Or they're working, as a woman I recently met, as a cashier at a grocery store, happy to be employed, but qualified to - and spent 24 years as a teacher. So this underemployment problem is not fully captured by simply looking at the joblessness rate or the unemployment rate. And we think it is something that is part of the picture of the recovery since the great recession.

One of the points raised is that African American families should increasingly encourage our children to move into some of the professional fields in which we are overly-invovled as consumers, and under-involved as producers. Such fields include the various STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields:

OVERTON: I think so. One piece here is STEM and the importance of STEM. You know, African-Americans are much more likely to use Twitter, to have a mobile phone than some others, but they are underrepresented in terms of producing in the technology area. And so there's a Joint Center report that found that if we were to increase the rate of STEM-related degrees among African-Americans and Latinos to the same rate as Asian-Americans, we'd add about 140,000 new STEM degree holders every year. That would benefit the economy. It would also go a long way in terms of inequality.

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