A brief synopsis of data obtained from the years 1958 through 2010 demonstrates the longitudinal consistency of the black-white employment disparity in the contemporary United States. In 1958, the unemployment rate for blacks was 14.4 percent and 6.9 percent for whites and during the 1960’s, very little changed in the likelihood of blacks being unemployed double the rate as whites. This fact was also noted in the Kerner Commission Report on Civil Disorders (Orr, 2009). In 1963, a year of economic prosperity, 29.2 percent of all black men were unemployed, with almost half of this population experiencing long stints of unemployment typically lasting for longer than three months, a trend that continued into the 70’s (“This Far By Faith”, 2010; Curran, Renzetti 201), U.S. Department of Labor, 2010; ch.3).
Between 1972 and 1980, the average black unemployment rate was 12.5 percent in comparison to the average white unemployment rate of 5.8 percent (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). During this time (1972-1980), “…the number of employed blacks increased by 1.3 million, or 17 percent [however], their proportion of the Nation's employed work force— 9.4 percent—did not change, as the white employment level rose by 18 percent” (Westcott 29). At points during this same period, which some have coined, “…stagflation- [because of] a combination of high inflation and high unemployment” (Spielvogel 866), the black unemployment rate rose as high as 2.4 times that of the white unemployment rate (Pinkney 93).
While the 1980s ushered in great change in society, (i.e., The Reagan Revolution, the end of the Cold War, a move toward supply side economics, etc.) the black unemployment trends of the 60s and 70s continued to hinder the economic advancement on large ‘blocks’ of the black community. In 1980, “though unemployment rate rose for both blacks and whites alike, the rate for blacks increased by 2.8 percent, to 14.9, while the rate for whites increased by approximately 1.4 percent, from 5.2 to 6.7 percent” (Pinkney 93), exactly half the rate of blacks. By 1983, black unemployment levels climbed as high as 20.6, leaving one out of every five blacks out of work (Curran, Renzetti 201), a trend that continued through to the 1990’s (Spielvogel 866; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009: Table 10).
During the 1990s, the black-white employment gap increased, averaging 15 percent and 6.3 percent (1980-1990), respectively, despite the election of President Bill Clinton, who many deemed to be “the first black president” based on the perception that his actions were...