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The unemployment rate for African American males is 15.5 %

By Maro Onokpise

Jay Z famously once said, “Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t”. If we are to subscribe to this thesis, we would be remiss if we didn’t take a closer look at a few statistics. There are still roughly 13 million unemployed Americans as of the August 2012 jobs report that was released in early September. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1% down from 8.2% in July. How does that sound to you? In actuality, it’s not that great.

Major Media Outlets (CNN, MSNBC, FOX), don’t report or focus on unemployment rates in the African American community; which is a staggering is 14.1%. For African American men it doesn’t get any better. The unemployment rate for African American males is 15.5 %. This is a whole seven percentage points higher than the national average!

Last summer, the African American unemployment rate hit 16.7 percent, its highest level since 1984. This leads me to another quote by Political Strategist/TV Personality Tavis Smiley, “When White America gets a cold, Black folks get Pneumonia!”

Though the recession and continuing economic downturn has been devastating to the American middle class as a whole; the years since the declared end of the collapse have been singularly harmful to middle-class African Americans. This group has been hit hardest by layoffs, lack of education, and unemployment according to government data. About one in five workers have public-sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in this field.

So, where is my point to all of this? Economists say there are a variety of reasons for the racial gap. They include the following, but I get the felling you won’t be too surprised by the results. One, most African-Americans lack the education to get higher-earning jobs. Two, discrimination is still a very REAL issue for folks of the chocolate persuasion. Third, some African Americans are not willing to move out of their comfort levels to find work. Yes, home is a wonderful. But if home isn’t hiring, I’m packing my bags.

Personally I am bullish on the future of the jobs market. More and more employers are hiring, which means our economy is gradually on the rise. What we have to do is educate and prepare our brothers for jobs of the future and that begins with education. The future of the jobs industry is already here, whether we choose to accept it or not. There are certain areas of the country where there are more jobs available than there are candidates to fill them. This is what I call labor polarization.

Labor polarization means there is a need for higher skilled workers (engineers, IT, etc.) and lower level careers (servers, laborers, etc.). Ultimately, mid-level executives, (which are where most individuals find themselves), seem to be squeezed out of the equation and compete for few jobs that are available. That explains why it’s difficult to land a job.

The way to get around this is to identify the employers that are doing the hiring. We don’t need politicians to talk about their plans for creating jobs, we just need them to pass regulations that make it easier for businesses to hire and retain employees. The good news is there are quite a few companies in Central Florida that are bucking the trend, and doubling down on their hiring. Based on a recent study by SimplyHired, here are the top companies that are aggressively hiring in Central Florida.

1. Adventist Health Systems
2. Florida Hospital
3. Lockheed Martin
4. Winn Dixie

Keep it mind, if the job you want isn’t out there…create it!

This country was built on entrepreneurs. Why can’t you join this special club?

I strongly believe that the employment situation is improving. The media paints a very different picture. Therefore, I am challenging everyone to go on an information diet. Don’t pay attention to news reports. Spend your time networking and getting to know others in the field that you desire to be your chosen career. Over 80% of jobs filled were never advertised. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

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