Feel the Heat! The Unrelenting Challenge of Young Black Male Unemployment

by Linda Harris

Oct 23, 2013

This report reflects on the current labor market situation of young black men and on policies and practices that can be leveraged to improve their labor market status.
  • Employment for young black males aged 16 to 24 has been steadily declining since the 1970s and has lagged substantially behind the rates for young white males and the national average.
  • Labor market challenges affect black men throughout their work lives: In 2012, black males were the only subgroup to experience unemployment rates of 10 percent or higher in every age group up to age 65.
  • Two critical contributors to black male unemployment are low education attainment and over-representation in the criminal justice system.
  • The goal of assuring that young black men are adequately prepared and equipped for labor market success is possible, provided that: 1) leadership at all levels prioritize the goal; 2) resources and expertise across systems are leveraged; 3) opportunities for job creation, including public job creation, are maximized; and 4) pipelines to jobs in demand industries are created.