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Keith A. Owens, 54, has been looking for work since losing his job last year as communications director for the Wayne County treasurer’s office in Michigan. A former award-winning journalist, he has applied for “40 or 50 or 60 jobs” with no luck. He has managed to scrape by playing guitar with a band and working with his wife’s firm, Writing It Right for You.

“I feel kind of funny saying the reason I was not hired is because I am black, because the fact is for very few opportunities I even got into the room,” he said. But, he added, he does not see similarly experienced white people going through the same things. “For some reason, things seem to have worked out okay for them.”

The economic downturn has only reinforced these troubling dynamics for black workers. They were hit harder than whites during the recession, in part because workers with less education were more likely to lose work during the downturn. They also have been slower to recover. One in five African Americans is employed by government — as opposed to one in seven whites — a sector that has cut jobs even as other parts of the economy have inched toward recovery.

Blacks are also under-represented in industries that have shown some strength during the recovery, including manufacturing and professional and business services, according to the Labor Department.

The result has been predictable: Black workers are not only more likely to be unemployed than whites, but they are also more likely to remain jobless for longer periods, wreaking havoc on their financial lives.

Black Jobless Rate Is Twice That Of Whites,” washingtonpost.com, 12/14/12

Filed under “…But You Knew This Already.” 

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