Magazine article Radical Teacher

"Hard Times for Black America". (Teaching Notes)

Magazine article Radical Teacher

"Hard Times for Black America". (Teaching Notes)

Article excerpt

In Dollars and Sense #115 (April 1986), pp. 75-76.

Students in my Principles of Economics class typically suggest that Blacks suffer higher unemployment rates than Whites because they do not work hard, or have made other poor choices, such as failing to get good educations. I have used this short article for many years to show them that forces beyond the control of African Americans have been at work to bring about this employment outcome.

The article describes the decline in manufacturing that began in the U.S. in the 1970s, due to increased competition from abroad. The steel industry provides a perfect example. Failing to modernize as did our European competitors, U.S. companies found themselves out of the game. U.S. investors began to shift resources toward the service sector.

As the article makes clear, African American males disproportionately filled those disappearing manufacturing jobs. Such jobs had helped Blacks moving up from the South after World War II to gain a foothold in middleclass U.S. life. Manufacturing jobs were decent paying jobs; they were unionized. The new jobs that have replaced these have, on the whole, been lower skill, lower pay. While the service sector has created high paying jobs, it has also been characterized by the proliferation of McDonald's type of employment, and it is this type of work for which the jobless Blacks qualified.

The essay describes changes in policies in the 1980's that reinforced the employment-related problems of African Americans. …

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