I wanted to share something I learned in one of my classes this semester.
Here are two charts from SSDAN’s WebCHIP site, which is basically an online program which lets you look at U.S. Census data in different ways. The first chart is from the 2000 Census, and the second is from the 2010 American Community Survey, which is a supplementary survey the Census Bureau does . This is used in place of the 2010 Census data, I guess since the website hasn’t been updated yet.
These charts are read as “percent out of the population”, which means the 100% for each category represents 100% of NHWhites, Asians, etc. That is, data is to be read proportionately within that racial group.
As you can see, pretty much every group suffered in employment between 2000 and 2010 due to the economic downturn. What’s notable, however, is that while rates of White and Black employment neared the same percent, unemployment for White people did not increase very much to compensate. Instead, jobless White folks joined the NILF group.
What does this mean? Well, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics measures unemployment a bit differently than one would expect. It does not mean “anyone over 16 who doesn’t have a job”. It means “anyone over 16 who doesn’t have a job, BUT who has applied for a job in the last four weeks”. The NILF category, “Not In Labor Force”, means that a person has no job and has not applied for a job in the last four weeks.
There are several very important ramifications here:
- Before the economic downturn, Black folks were applying for jobs at about the same rate as after.
- After the economic downturn, a significant percentage of White folks decided to not continue searching for for work.
- These two facts, as seen from the data, directly contradict the myth that Black people are lazy and not searching for work.
- People who cite that there is higher unemployment of Black folks as evidence of “laziness” to justify their racism are actually saying the exact opposite: a higher Black unemployment rate means Black people, proportionate to their racial group, are searching for work more than other groups, which is true in the data above.
- What this means is that more Black people are searching for work, but they aren’t being hired!
- And this was a problem even before the recession.
So yeah. It is absolutely a myth that Black people are lazy. There are social, market, and educational forces at work which prevent Black folks from gaining employment— but, as the data shows, it’s not for lack of trying.
Now how do you explain the large increase in the NILF group for White people? The racial wealth gap in which White people own several times more net wealth than other groups. This is usually in the form of houses, land, and other assets like stocks and savings, which are inherited. When you don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage, you can accumulate wealth. Accumulated wealth means you can kick it back for awhile and not search for a job for four weeks.
To reproduce these results:
- Go here and click on “browse”, then select the data set (I used “cen2000” and “acs2010” and press submit.
- For cen2000, select “employ2k.dat” next. For acs2010, select “employ.dat”. Click submit.
- Choose WebCHIP 3.0 on the next screen. Wait awhile, and if Java asks for permission, check the box and click OK.
- If you want to see information on the total # of people surveyed in each group, go to COMMAND » MARGINALS. Otherwise, go to COMMAND » CROSSTAB. Select employment first, then race.
- Go to TABLE » PERCENT DOWN. You should now have your chart.
worst pain imaginable