Unemployment up, Black youth hardest hit

Nothing in the June unemployment report – unemployment up 0.3 percent to 6.4 percent with 11 million workers either unemployed, forced to work part-time or too “discouraged” to look for non-existent jobs, and two million workers out of work for 27 weeks or more – is cause for celebration.

But with all of that, the most disturbing number comes from an analysis of the report by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). According to CDF, nearly three-fifths (59.1 percent) of the nation’s youth between the ages of 16 and 19 are without jobs.

“This is the highest June jobless rate for youth in the 55 years that data have been reported and the highest ever for a summer month,” CDF says, adding: “Joblessness among Black and Hispanic teens was even higher: 78.3 percent for Black teens (the highest since 1983) and 68.4 percent for Latino teens, the highest reported for young Latinos.”

In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund said, “The 2001 tax cut did not produce the jobs that teens need to supplement family income or earn money to pay for college.” She said a study by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges shows that college tuition fees have seen increased by 10 percent or more in 22 states.

“If benefits from the Bush administration’s massive tax cuts to the wealthy were supposed to trickle down to the rest of the work force, they are not reaching young people,” said Edelman. “How shameful that the Bush administration hands billions to millionaires but will not help provide jobs for young people who desperately need them.”

The CDF statement blasted the Bush administration’s proposal to eliminate the Youth Opportunity Grant program that, it said, is a crucial part of reducing teen unemployment. The latest data for large cities (April, 2000) show the highest rates of out-of-school youth without employment were in Hartford, Conn. (70.5 percent), New Orleans, Louisiana (69.4 percent), Brownsville, Texas (68.1 percent), Miami, Fla. (67.5 percent), and Gary, Ind.(67.3 percent).