Tag Archives: minority unemployment

Tapping the Economic Potential of African American Men

Are African American males our greatest untapped resource?

The answer is yes, according to a study by Policy Bridge, Cleveland-based, minority-focused think tank.

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“No single resource in Northeast Ohio is as underutilized as African-American males,” reports the agency in its study, Untapped Potential, African-American Males in Northeast Ohio.

• In Cleveland, roughly 65 percent of all males living in poverty are
African-American.

• Roughly a third of African-American men in Northeast Ohio cities never completed high school.

• African-American men are unemployed at twice the rate of the total male
population in nearly every Northeast Ohio county and remain so for
longer periods.

“The loss of African-American male potential is, in fact, a loss of income
that is crippling the regional and state economies,” study authors report.

I never thought of the situation this way, but this is a very interesting argument.

Do the math. In 2003, workers who did not complete high school earned less than $21,000 a year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are high drop-out rates and discriminatory hiring practices ensuring a future of poverty in Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown?

What about Detroit? Gary? St. Louis?

What can be done to reverse course?

Policy Bridge has these recommendations:

“By investing in better educating, fully employing, and fairly compensating the African-American male population, the area is investing in its own well-being. The return on investment will come in the form of increased consumer buying power, increased income and property taxes, increased civic engagement, and renewed economic growth.

“Before this reward can be realized, however, the community must undergo a
change in viewpoint: The African-American male population must no longer be seen as a potential drain on community resources, but as an untapped well of economic potential and a key ingredient to Northeast Ohio’s economic recovery.”

-AS

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