Demelza Baer in Asbury Park Press: Equality of economic opportunity unfinished business

Institute Policy Counsel Demelza Baer writes in the Asbury Park Press:

While the overall unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent this month, stark racial disparities nevertheless persist. Nationally, the unemployment rate for white people is only 3.7 percent, but it jumps to 5.2 percent among Latinos and 7.5 percent among Blacks...

These statistics mirror our findings on employment in Newark in our recent report, “Bridging the Two Americas: Employment & Economic Opportunity in Newark & Beyond.” Despite having a higher labor force participation rate than the national average, people of color in Newark have the highest unemployment rates in the city, with black residents experiencing an unemployment rate that is double that of white residents. Since the labor force only includes people who are working or who have been actively looking for work in the past four weeks, this means that a greater proportion of people of color in Newark want to be working than the national average...

Fifty years later, Dr. King’s observation remains true — high unemployment rates are due to systemic failures, not individual ones. Yet, while there is near-universal agreement that thousands of coal miners and millions of former manufacturing workers lost their jobs due to technological innovation and broader economic changes, and that we must provide aid to help them find new jobs, we have been complacent about persistent racial inequality in employment for generations.

To read the full OpEd, please click here.

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