The impact of the recession has been especially hard on minority communities and those lacking a college degree in D.C., a city already plagued by one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, according to a new report by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute
The Oct. 13 report states that there has been a marked increase of unemployment among blacks and high school graduates in D.C. According to the report, unemployment for those without a high school degree or only a high school diploma is around 20 percent, as opposed to 4.2 percent for those who have graduated from college. The importance of higher education particularly affects blacks: 80 percent of white residents above the age of 25 have a college degree, compared to 21 percent of black residents.
Such numbers could be
attributed to a variety of factors, including race, socioeconomic status and education, according to Mike Schaub, executive director of the Career Education Center.
“These variables must be considered in tandem with the number of job opportunities at the local level. Students graduating with a college degree are at an advantage when seeking good paying jobs during a difficult economy,” Schaub said.
The situation is uniquely difficult for high school graduates in D.C.
“The D.C. Metro area job market contains many jobs that require advanced education,” Schaub said.
Schaub said that college students also have more resources to help find employment than high school graduates. The problem is not limited to those that do not have a degree, however.
According to the report, unemployment among blacks in D.C. in 2009 was 15.6 percent, a growth in unemployment of over 50 percent, from 2008’s 10.4 percent. Blacks constitute a majority of D.C.’s population, but their employment rate dropped from 53 percent in 2008 to 49.5 percent in 2009, according to the report. In contrast, the employment rate for whites rose from 77 to 78 percent.
D.C.’s Latino population also suffered tremendously last year, according to the report. The Latino unemployment rate increased the most out of any group in D.C., with a rise from 4.7 percent in 2008 to 8.4 percent in 2009.
The statistics for blacks and Latinos in D.C. stand in contrast with white D.C. residents, whose unemployment rate was only 4.1 percent in 2009.
The recent increase in unemployment among blacks in D.C. is only indicative of larger trends, however. According to the report, blacks’ job conditions have worsened continuously since the 1980s, even in periods when the city’s economy was growing .