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Race still dividing line for jobless

caines | 2/8/2012, 7:40 a.m.

Unemployment status by race, sex and age

Black businesses rebounding at slower rate

While the economy is showing bright spots in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties with a reported 23,000 more payroll positions added this past December,Blacks are still way behind whites in their efforts to get back to work. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, in January 2012, whites had an unemployment rate of eight percent while Blacks doubled that at 14 percent. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, 69, District 17, says that the job market for Blacks is still in bad shape. I have heard anecdotally that the jobless rate in Miami-Dade County is as high as 30 percent for young, Black males, she said. This is unacceptable. One of my top priorities is to combat long term unemployment and provide assistance for those who have gone so long without work. The unemployment rate for whites [male and female] in January 2012 was 22 percent compared to a 40 percent rate for Blacks. Bill Diggs, 49,president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, believes that Blacks are getting jobs but not fast enough. The economy seems to be turning around at a snails pace, he said. Where there has been growth is in new Black businesses. The downturn has been in the employability of workers. It seems like the numbers are higher in the Black community than anywhere else. Diggs adds that the Chamber has seen an increase in membership, about a 10 to 15 percent jump, but they have also seen a decrease in Black companies that are earning significant amounts of money. Since the market went bad we have seen Black businesses begin to get back to work but theyre not coming back at a fast pace, he said. Things are gradually moving up. Other highlights from the Departments report showed that in 2010, the unemployment rate for Blacks was 17 percent in Broward County and 17.5 percent in Miami-Dade County. In comparison, the rate for all races was 11 percent in Broward County and 12 percent in Miami-Dade County last year.

Why arent Blacks getting jobs?

Experts point to many reasons to explain why Blacks seem to have a more difficult time finding jobs. Diggs says that new demands for certain skilled laborers in the workforce are trumping decisions to hire minorities. There used to be a value of diversity in the workforce that is not there anymore, Diggs said. There used to be chief diversity officers at major corporations. Things arent like that anymore. Diversity was the first thing to fall off. Because this has happened Black people are not being hired back by these major companies anymore because there is no real sensitivity to diversity. Diggs also notes the lack of technological knowledge as a reason why some Blacks arent getting hired. The new economy says you have to be very proficient from the perspective of technology, he said. You have to be able to use the latest and greatest in software. Kevin Thomas, 32, a North Miami Beach entrepreneur, says that tough times continue to impact his life. I try my best to keep people employed, especially Black people but right now we are the ones that need the most help, he said. Even though everyone is saying the economy is looking better, I honestly do not see that big of a change. Even whenI do try to bring on new people sometimes we dont have the necessary technical and social skills I am looking for. Trever T. Wade, Sr., 36, a branch manager for Triton Insurance Group, Inc., says that Blacks are missing out on ground level job opportunities. The only jobs I've heard about are those of lower wages, he said. I think a number of our Black people are too proud to take those positions which is another conversation. However, we must get back into the work force. It seems like more and more people are living on the system. By Randy Gricergrice@miamitimesonline.com