The New York Times is reporting that more than half of all black New Yorkers are now unemployed, and that they remain unemployed for a year on average after losing their jobs. Meanwhile, the number of “discouraged workers”—people who give up looking for work after a long period of unemployment—has risen to 40,000 among blacks, much higher than it stood at the beginning of the recession and nearly twice the rate for whites.
Numerous businesses have reported payroll increases, and important professional industries like law and accounting are beginning to recover. Blacks, however, have been largely left out of this recovery—including college-educated blacks, who in many cases have been forced to settle for jobs well below their qualifications:
“Employers are getting more for less,” said Mr. Starkes, who was at a Workforce1 Career Center in Harlem on Wednesday. “People who used to get a job with a bachelor’s degree now need a master’s. I just think that’s the state of the economy right now.”
Mr. Jones said he was also troubled by the inability of less-skilled and less-educated workers to find jobs for long periods. For example, he said, his agency, which provides services to poor and low-income New Yorkers, found that about half of the people holding jobs as security guards had bachelor’s degrees or had attended college. That was up from about 26 percent six years ago, he said.
“The wage didn’t go up,” Mr. Jones said. “This is a low-wage job. It pays $10 an hour with no health insurance.”
But don’t worry: if any of these long-term unemployed people ever get some spending money together, Mayor Bloomberg has them covered: he’s moving heaven and earth to make sure they don’t buy oversized sodas or eat any trans fats.
A message to nanny-staters everywhere: Please, attend to the big stuff first. Build an economy that is producing jobs, and especially jobs for the poor. Once you’ve really got that down, you can move on to the evils of soda. Spend less time worrying about whether little Jennifer is packing too many Ring Dings in her school lunch, and more time making sure her parents have jobs.
Is that really such a tough concept to grasp? And is New York really such a successful place that we all we really need to do for the poor is to tax or prohibit the few pleasures they can afford?