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Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men has reached Great Depression proportions.  In October the unemployment rate raised to 34.5 percent, more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in Washington DC, home to many young black men, rose to 11.9 percent from 11.4 percent.

Traditionally the last hired and first fired, workers in the 16-24 age group have taken the brunt of the difficult economy. Cost-conscious employers are clearing out the internship and on job training programs that for generations gave young people a one up in the work world or a second chance for those less equipped for positions.

It seems this generation is being blown out of entry-level positions by older, more experienced job seekers on the unemployment rolls who willingly trade down just to get hired.  Race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment compared to age, income or even education. Compared to lower-income white teens who are more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, blacks are less likely to obtain the same opportunities even blacks who graduate from college.  African-Americans with a college education are even suffering from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

Young black women have an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent, while the rate for all 16-to-24-year-old women is 15.4 percent. Our biggest question is how do we go about fixing this, what’s the solution to the problem?


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