EUGENE, Ore. — The black population continues to lag behind in the labor force.
New government numbers show the group’s unemployment rate nationwide to be nearly 6 percent higher than the overall number.
Local economists say this isn’t new information. In fact, they say it’s a trend that was seen even before the recession. Members of the local black community agree it’s not surprising.
While the nation’s overall unemployment rate is 7.9 percent. The black population’s unemployment rate is 13.8 percent.
“This has been going on for years, 25, 30 years,” said Greg Evans, Eugene City Councilor.
Local economists agree it’s a trend that spans years. So, why hasn’t anything changed?
“It’s all symptomatic to that our education system is failing,” Evans said.
Local black community members say it’s not just the gap in unemployment that needs to be bridged.
“I think it’s the gap between middle school and high school, between high school and college that people lose themselves in the gap,” said Eugene resident Derriel Ingram.
But while education may be a factor. Some wondered if it was enough.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for black workers with Bachelor’s degrees is also slightly higher than the national number–sitting at 5.1 percent. But rather than be weighed down by the stats, some saw it as motivation for strive for even more.
“It just lets me know I need to get my Master’s. I’m competing on a different scale,” Ingram said.
And while progress has been made, there is still more work to do.
“It’s a lot better than it was when I graduated from high school 35 years ago. I can tell you that. It’s way better than when my parents graduated from high school and college, but it’s still not where it should be,” Evans said.
In Oregon, the numbers are slightly higher. While the unemployment rate overall was 8.9 percent, the percentage of black unemployed Oregonians was double that.