Black Women Still Have Not Recovered From the Recession

For Black women, education makes the least difference in earning potential, among other factors.

J. Weston Phippen
Add to Briefcase
J. Weston Phippen
July 1, 2015, 9:22 a.m.

Angie Stack­house worked as a phar­macist, a loan of­ficer, as a vo­lun­teer at home­less or­gan­iz­a­tions and mostly as an elec­tri­cian in Mary­land, mak­ing $12.50 an hour. She’s worked since she was 14. When the re­ces­sion took her ca­reer sev­en years ago, she knew she’d find an­oth­er one. Ex­cept, the only work avail­able paid min­im­um wage. At 47-years-old, in 2010, Stack­house en­rolled in school to re­in­vent her­self.

“I’ll def­in­itely get a job,” she re­calls think­ing, “be­cause I’ll have a de­gree.” That was around the time Pres­id­ent Obama boas­ted about the Amer­ic­an labor mar­ket. “Em­ploy­ers today are look­ing for the most skilled, edu­cated work­ers,” the Pres­id­ent had said around that time.

Stack­house stud­ied busi­ness man­age­ment, and in 2014 crossed the stage at Cath­ol­ic Uni­versity of Amer­ica. At 51, she up­dated her re­sume and went on­line, hope­ful that an edu­ca­tion would make the dif­fer­ence.

Around this time, Black wo­men like Stack­house in the U.S. had seen the smal­lest change in em­ploy­ment since the re­ces­sion. They ac­coun­ted for just 12 per­cent of the fe­male work­force, but rep­res­en­ted 42 per­cent of lost jobs among wo­men, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port called Black Wo­men in the United States, which high­lights their dis­pro­por­tion­ate loss dur­ing the re­cov­ery.

Black wo­men work min­im­um wage jobs more than any oth­er demo­graph­ic, the re­port notes.

So as the re­cov­ery took hold, the volat­ile nature of their po­s­i­tions be­came even more un­stable as the mass of un­em­ployed work­ers all com­peted for entry level jobs. In 2009, as the eco­nomy began to add jobs, Black wo­men lost jobs. Two years later, in 2011, when most oth­er demo­graph­ics had seen sig­ni­fic­ant de­clines in their un­em­ploy­ment rates, Black wo­men’s un­em­ploy­ment jumped to its highest, 14.8 per­cent.

“You look at what type of jobs were lost,” says Melanie Camp­bell, who works with the Black Wo­men’s Roundtable, an or­gan­iz­a­tion fo­cused on policy. “Pub­lic sec­tor jobs were a big part of that. And you’re look­ing at ser­vice jobs and jobs in health­care. When it comes to re­cov­ery, those job aren’t com­ing back any­time soon. So on a state level you have so many jobs be­ing erased.”

This was the mar­ket Stack­house entered when she began her search. Be­fore she en­rolled in col­lege, Stack­house lost her Mary­land apart­ment. With little sav­ings, she had to move in with a re­l­at­ive in South­east, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., the area where she’d grown up. Gentri­fic­a­tion had fi­nally marched across the Anacos­tia River, and now new res­id­en­tial com­plexes were crowding out Black res­id­ents who’d al­ways lived there. This posed a prob­lem for Stack­house, as most of the jobs she wanted lay across or near that river, about an hour away on a bus and trains.

Stack­house sent out ten re­sumes a day, she says. She ap­plied for of­fice jobs. She ap­plied to non-profits. She ap­plied for any­thing with a liv­able salary.

“It’s not just find­ing a job, it’s find­ing a job that will sus­tain you,” she says.

When an em­ploy­er called her back, she’d wear a black suit jack­et with a skirt cut just be­low the knee. She wor­ried the look was out of fash­ion, but at this point, not even able to pay her rent in full, she couldn’t af­ford to re­place it. She’d board the bus. Then the train. Sit for an in­ter­view. In­ev­it­ably, no one called her back.

She sent out more re­sumes, and lowered her salary ex­pect­a­tions. She also stopped in­clud­ing her ad­dress on her re­sume (she’d heard em­ploy­ers frown on cer­tain zip codes). “I didn’t have any ex­per­i­ence,” she says of why no one would hire her.

This spring, the na­tion’s total job­less rate fell to its low­est point in sev­en years, and wo­men’s over­all un­em­ploy­ment fell to a six-year low. However, in that same time, Black wo­men’s un­em­ploy­ment rose to nine per­cent, a slight up­tick.

More troub­ling is the fact that, com­pared to oth­er groups, for Black wo­men, edu­ca­tion makes the least dif­fer­ence in earn­ing po­ten­tial. A Black wo­man with a high school de­gree earns less than a White man who dropped out of school in the 9th grade, ac­cord­ing to the Black Wo­men in the United States Re­port. It would take two Black wo­men with bach­el­or’s de­grees to earn as much as one white man with an as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree. And even among col­lege edu­cated wo­men, Black wo­men earn the least. So while a de­gree can nev­er hurt, it doesn’t help Black wo­men like it would any­one else.

Stack­house’s in­ab­il­ity to find a job des­pite her new edu­ca­tion is a sign of prob­lems Black wo­men face across the coun­try, Camp­bell says. Camp­bell points to a re­cent art­icle in For­bes that lis­ted wo­men of col­or as the fast­est grow­ing group of en­tre­pren­eurs. It’s great news, Camp­bell says, but she won­ders if some wo­men “are do­ing that out of ne­ces­sity.”

Last week, Stack­house wandered the D.C. Home Expo and stopped at a booth. A wo­man asked if she wanted to buy a home. “No,” Stack­house told her, “but I need a job.”

“What do you do?” the wo­man asked.

“Well,” Stack­house said, “for a while I was a loan of­ficer.”

The wo­man said she might know of work, al­though it would be heav­ily com­mis­sion-based. Stack­house wrote down her num­ber. “It’s not just find­ing a job, it’s find­ing a job that will sus­tain you.” —Angie Stack­house

What We're Following See More »
"A CASE ABOUT LIES"
Manafort Case Moves to Closing Arguments
3 days ago
THE LATEST
THEY CALLED NO WITNESSES
Manafort Defense Rests
4 days ago
THE LATEST
ANDREW MILLER IS AN AIDE TO ROGER STONE
Judge Holds Witness in Contempt in Manafort Case
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."

Source:
TAX FRAUD, FAILURE TO REGISTER
Gates Says He Committed Crimes with Manafort
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates said in court today that "he conspired with Manafort to falsify Manafort’s tax returns. Gates said he and Manafort knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and had failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent."

Source:
Gates to Be Called Next in Manafort Case
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login