Institutionalised racism shows up in US unemployment figures

Gotta say that some of the latest unemployment numbers are quite extraordinary, enough to give me a “Holy Shit” moment. Is it any wonder that African-American males are overrepresented in U.S. prisons when you read the following unemployment statistics, just released for the September quarter in the United States?slave1_fpMLi_18279

The September teen unemployment rate hit 25.9%, the highest rate since World War II and up from 23.8% in July. Some 330,000 teen jobs have vanished in two months. Hardest hit of all: black male teens, whose unemployment rate shot up to a catastrophic 50.4%. It was merely a terrible 39.2% in July.

Catastrophic is right. What sort of start to a working life is it for young black teen males when over 50% of them are unable to find work?

The Wall Street Journal argues that the reason for this high rate is the rise in the minimum wage that has taken place over the last couple years.  This has gone up gradually from $5.15 an hour in July 2007 to the new rate of $7.25 and that took effect in July this year, and when “Congress began raising the minimum wage … and there are now 691,000 fewer teens working.” The Journal calls for a return to cheaper minimum rates, but knowing this isn’t likely, it offers another suggestion — a teen rate.

If Congress won’t suspend its recent minimum wage hike, it should at least create a teenage wage of $4 or $5 an hour to help put hundreds of thousands of teens back to work. White House chief economic adviser Larry Summers has endorsed this in the past. Without this change, expect the teen unemployment to remain very high for a long time.

Why stop at $4 per hour? Why not make the minimum wage $2 or even $1 per hour as, by this logic,  you would have near full employment. But, seriously, do you know what this editorial tells me about the Wall Street Journal? That, had it been around in the time of slavery, the editors would have been sided with the slave owners, not the abolitionists. Look, a decent minimum wage is necessary to provide a (very) basic living standard. Getting $4 per hour it is little better than indentured servitude.

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