Economic Perspectives with Hopeton Hay on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, TX

African American Recession Job Losses Surpass 1 million, Obama Annouces Training Initiative for Unemployed

Posted by Hopeton on May 10, 2009

By Hopeton Hay

The April unemployment data released May 8th revealed continuing job losses in the economy with African Americans suffering disproportionately.   African Americans have lost over 1 million jobs since the recession began according to my analysis of the latest data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  From an industry perspective, health care remains the one industry sector that continues to record consistent monthly job increases while manufacturing, professional and business services, and the construction industries recorded the highest job losses in April.  Meanwhile, President Obama announced a new initiative to facilitate access to raining for the unemployed on May 8.

African American Unemployment

When the recession started in December of 2007 there were 1,561,000 unemployed African American according to seasonally adjusted employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The April 2009 employment report from the BLS,  released May 8, indicates there were 2,673,000 unemployed African Americans in April.

The April unemployed figure was 340,000 higher than March, the largest one month increase in African American unemployed since at least February 1972.  Monthly data on African American employment is available through online reports on the BLS web site only as far back as January 1972.  African Americans represented more than 60 percent of the total increase in the number of unemployed, which was 563,000 for the entire nation.

African American unemployment rate dramatically increased from 13.3 percent in March to 15 percent in April, its highest rate since June of 1986. During the same time period, Hispanic unemployment dropped slightly from 11.4 percent to 11.3 percent, and white unemployment rose from 7.9 percent to 8 percent.  Overall unemployment grew from 8.5 percent to 8.9 percent in April.

Industry Employment Changes in April

The health care industry continues to provide consistent growth in job opportunities.  Health care employment grew 17,000 in April and has averaged 17,000 new jobs a month in 2009, down from an average monthly job growth of 30,000 in 2008.

The federal government employment grew 66,000 in April, largely due to the increase in employment by the Census Bureau for the 2010 census.

Other industries experienced significant job losses in March led by the manufacturing industry with a loss of 149,000 jobs, professional and business services lost 122,000 jobs, the construction industry lost 110,000 jobs, and retail lost 47,000 jobs.

Obama Announces Job Training Initiative for Unemployed

With the release of the April unemployment figures, President Obama announced new steps to help the unemployed obtain retraining and education “for the jobs and industries of tomorrow” at a press briefing May 8th.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

“First, we’ll open new doors to higher education and job training programs to recently laid-off workers who are receiving unemployment benefits.  And if those displaced workers need help paying for their education, they should get it — and that’s why the next step is to make it easier for them to receive Pell Grants,” said Obama.

“I’ve asked my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and my Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, to work closely with states and our institutions of higher learning and encourage them not only to allow these changes, but to inform all workers receiving unemployment benefits of the training programs and financial support open to them.  And together, the Department of Education and the Department of Labor have created a new website called — I’ll repeat that, — to help workers discover and take advantage of these opportunities,” said Obama.

Hopeton Hay is editor and publisher of the Economic Perspectives blog and chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the Texas NAACP.


5 Responses to “African American Recession Job Losses Surpass 1 million, Obama Annouces Training Initiative for Unemployed”

  1. […] Posted by econpers on April 7, 2009 NOTE: For the latest post on African American unemployment click the following link: African American Recession Job Losses Surpasses 1 million, Obama Announces Training Initiative for U… […]

  2. The Dubois Bunche Center for public policy has formulated a public policy initiative which proposes to insure that the Obama stimulus package targets substantial resources to the unemployment crises within communities predominated by people of color. Read more about this public policy proposal on

  3. M.D. Knight said

    Companies will see their revenues drastically decline more over the next few years to come. Do to the serious decline of Industry/Manufacturing in the U.S. which is one of the biggest players in the U.S. economical crisis. A country must produce at least 60%-70% of its User Products in order to survive as a productive nation. Do, the fast track of global trade, the U.S. has allowed a large majority its Industrial/Manufacturing, I.T Services and Customer Service centers to be phased out to other countries, in order to increase company revenues. By doing this the U.S. has placed its self on the fast track to becoming a 2nd/3rd world country. The U.S. economy will keep continuing to decline. It will only turn around when the U.S. passes very strict new trade regulations and taxation on American companies profiting off of overseas slave labor. Workers in China average 0.15 cents per hour and work 12+ hour shifts, 6 days a week making products for U.S. companies. Until Major Manufacturing is brought back to U.S. we are all very screwed economically…

    Please note: Bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.A. “WILL NOT” raise the prices of items we buy. It will only hurt the wealthy by cutting their greedy enormous profit margins and the stock market will also have problems for a brief period readjusting to the change. Since the people on wall street aided greatly in creating this economical mess as well with their any way to make a buck attitude. New stricter regulation will need to be passed in order to limited the creative deceit of wall street..

    Things will not improve until the people say enough is enough and stand together as one great voice and demand immediate change…


    Marcus D. Knight
    Economical & Investment Advisor


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