Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What to do about black unemployment

I would say the real black employment rate on average is about 22%. If you take U-6 and add the difference between the white and black U-3 rate you get 22%. The difference can mostly be traced to educational differences, immigration competition among the poor, geographical differences, different career choices (fewer entrepreneurs) and reduced government employment. The residual is discrimination.

Because of the huge legacy of racial oppression and discrimination, you cannot a conversation about black unemployment. Even the most liberal whites have come to associate blacks with being undeserving. In fact, the defenses go up so fast, that I have stopped writing or discussing "black unemployment" directly. I also use code.   I now always use "hard working poor people" or "former military servicemen" both groups contain large number of poor and minorities.

The problem is that society undervalues a job by social justice standards   Many people equate a job with their wage or the valued added returned to the employer. But a job is much more than that. In our society. A job is freedom, dignity, and respect.  It is a chance to participate in society, to earn a wage, to make friends and socialize with people from different backgrounds. It is also a chance to learn and develop. It is a chance to have pride. Without out a job you are worse than unemployed: you are a loser.

Now what to do ? Three things to start: we need to tilt the economy back to rewarding labor, set a realistic limit on immigration, and have the government (state and local) become the employer of last resort. The way to increase returns to labor are all pretty well known: limit corporate size and market control, encourage unions, increase the minimum wage, and teach and encourage entrepreneurship. Immigration should be a function of the unemployment rate.  And finally, the government should be the employer of last resort. It would be cheaper than the current social safety net.

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