Saturday, November 18, 2017
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Economic Justice-Solving L.A.’s Black Job Crisis
By Charlene Muhammad, Contributing Writer
Published March 29, 2017
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

Los Angeles is in the throes of a Black jobs crisis, indicates a new study released by the UCLA Labor Center, the Los Angeles Black Worker Center, and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.

“Ready to Work, Uprooting Inequity: Black Workers in Los Angeles County,” was authored by Saba Waheed, Tamara Haywood, Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, Psalm Brown, and Reyna Orellana.  It details how the lack of access to quality jobs negatively impacts the Black community,

Their report, launched at Holman United Methodist Church and via live stream on March 21 under the hash tag #HealBlackFutures, argues for the need to stabilize Black families and communities by creating good-paying, quality jobs accessible to Black workers, they indicated.

The researchers aimed to educate policy makers, union representatives, and organizations working for economic justice about the needs of Black workers in Los Angeles, they summarized.

The report concluded that the Black community has a long and vibrant presence in L.A., but economic and social hardships are pushing residents out.

For instance, the researchers indicated, the percentage of Black workers in manufacturing jobs since 1980 has shrunk 19 percent to five percent.

In addition, Black workers and jobs have also been adversely affected by employer efforts to deunionize industries, it went on.

Other findings include:

  • Black people in Los Angeles are significantly more educated than previous generations, yet experience a lower labor participation rate and a significantly higher unemployment rate than white workers;
  • Black workers are underrepresented in professional jobs and have lower rates in manager and supervisory positions;
  • Many Black workers are in low-wage jobs and earn less than white workers in similar positions; and
  • Black workers experience a myriad of negative health outcomes due to racial discrimination in employment.

In addition, the researchers found that whether working full or part-time, Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn.

For Black women, the wage gap is even more severe, according to the study.  And, Black workers experience a myriad of negative health outcomes due to racial discrimination in employment.

The L.A. Black Worker Center offered as some recommendations to promote healthy and economically viable Black communities:  1) supporting worker movements that improve working conditions; 2) creating policies and programs that create access to jobs for underrepresented workers; and, 3) empowering agencies and communities to address discrimination and workplace issues together.

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