Sunday, October 9, 2016

WaPost: Why black workers who do everything right still get left behind

50 years later, blacks have equal rights and greater access to opportunities in education and employment. More blacks today have baccalaureate degrees and advanced degrees than when Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive. However, black workers are still financially struggling compared to their white peers. The problem is the highest-paying occupations today are only attainable if you have access to elite social connections. As a result, more black workers with college degrees are encountering discrimination in ways that were not foreseen in the past. Rising income inequality also disproportionately affects black workers. From The Washington Post:

These facts help explain why a recent Pew Research Center survey shows that African Americans with more education perceive more economic inequality. Among blacks with four-year college degrees, 81 percent say that blacks today are financially worse off than whites. But among blacks with no college experience, only 46 percent agree with that statement.

Pew also finds that college-educated blacks are more likely to report personal experiences with discrimination, and more likely to say that being black makes it harder to get ahead in life.

The data suggest an irony: By climbing the economic ladder, African Americans get perspective on the full system of inequality in America.

The EPI report adds to a sense that the economy is biased against black progress. We know that the Great Recession was especially damaging to African American wealth. We know that black people are more sensitive to downturns in the job market; they have a harder time finding a job, and are among the first to be fired when the economy seizes up. We know that for the past 50 years, the black unemployment rate has always been double that of the white unemployment rate.