Stat of the Year: 27 Year High for Black Unemployment, 16.7%

Tonight on WPFW FM 89.3 (Washington DC) at 6:30 pm we will do an end of the year wrap show.  What was the biggest story of the year?  Probably the killing by President Obama and SEAL Team 6 of the murderer of 3,000 Americans, Osama bin Laden.  But what was the stat of the year in CBC-land? Unemployment was bad for everyone but particularly bad for one specific sector with stark disproportionality.

16.7%! In August the CBC went on a five city jobs tour that was covered comprehensively by and MSNBC. Rep. Maxine Waters made headlines by questioning the strategy of President Obama on unemployment — particularly for the highest unemployed sector: African Americans.  The next month a statistic was revealed: That the black unemployment rate hit its worst and highest number since 1983 at 16.7%.  Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for black men was at an unthinkable 18%.  The stratospheric numbers coincided with the President telling members of the CBC at their annual dinner to “stop whining” and “complaining” and march with him.  In the last two months, White House officials have begun to focus on policy directly related to the problem.  This was a far cry from late 2009 when President Obama gave USA TODAY a “rising tide lifts all boats” answer when asked about black unemployment.  In September, a month after the CBC’s loud jobs initiative, the President offered a comprehensive jobs bill, the first seen since the Stimulus in early 2009.

During 2011 we saw “highest ever” statistics on the number of Americans in poverty (50 million), the number of people on food stamps (42 million Americans) and behind bars (2.3 million).  We also had “lowest ever” (in history) approval numbers for the new 112th Congress taken over by the Tea Party driven GOP majority in January 2011.  We also saw a stat showing the wealth gap widening for all Americans — a gap of wealth that was disproportionately wide for African Americans.