Nowhere is inequality starker and more shameful than in the difference between the unemployment figures for blacks and whites. By now we should be finished with even having to refer to people as black or white, but there it is. We haven't progressed as much as we'd like to think.
The African American jobless rate is about twice that of whites, a disparity that has barely budged since the government began tracking the data in 1972. In last week’s jobs report, the black unemployment rate was 13.2 percent, while the white rate stood at 6.8 percent. ...WaPo
I admit to ambivalence about affirmative action precisely because I don't think treating people as members of separate races is helpful or even honest. But affirmative action does more than spread the availability of education. It also assures equal access to the social networking -- the contacts that universities and colleges offer their graduates. And it's the absence of a social network that makes it harder for African American graduates to find a path to employment.
Discrimination has long been seen as the primary reason for this disparity, which is evident among workers from engineers to laborers. But fresh research has led scholars to conclude that African Americans also suffer in the labor market from having weaker social networks than other groups.
Having friends and relatives who can introduce you to bosses or tell you about ripe opportunities has proved to be one of the most critical factors in getting work. Such connections can also help people hold onto their jobs, researchers say.
“It is surprising to many people how important job networks are to finding work,” said Deirdre A. Royster, a New York University sociologist. “The information they provide help people make a good first impression, get through screening and get hired.” ...WaPo