Black unemployment statistics are indeed misleading, and are in reality much higher, since so many African Americans have given up "even looking for work," as reported Wednesday ("Advocates seek more help for the black unemployed"). In addition to African Americans who have stopped looking because of exasperation, there are many more who barely register having ever started looking.
Many employers have hiring rules that preclude even interviewing those with arrest records or prison time. Given that African American men are disproportionately profiled and arrested and have served time, it is no wonder that they give up. They worry that if they accumulate college debt, that they won't have the income to pay the loans. Even the carrot of tax incentives by the city couldn't move the Philadelphia business community to lighten up and consider hiring those with prison records.
Any job creation efforts have to address this growing population of men who are victims of the prison industrial complex. They mess up as boys and young men and then want to go straight. If business never sees the potential in these men as employees, then going straight will mean straight back into street life. Make no mistake: These men have families to support, too.
Executive director, Metropolitan Career Center