DECEMBER 07, 2011 / BY DANI MCCLAIN Public sector cuts hurt Black America

As we reported last week, Black unemployment was up in November despite news that joblessness overall is on the decline. A recent New York Times report offers some clues as to what's going on.

Long before public sector jobs were placed on the chopping block by Republican governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Ohio's John Kasich, they were the path to the middle class for many African Americans. Long before Congressional Republicans decided that government jobs don't count as real work, they were how we bought homes and sent children to college. Now they're under attack. And by extension, so are Black families.

From the Times piece:

Though the recession and continuing economic downturn have been devastating to the American middle class as a whole, the two and a half years since the declared end of the recession have been singularly harmful to middle-class blacks in terms of layoffs and unemployment, according to economists and recent government data. About one in five black workers have public-sector jobs, and African-American workers are one-third more likely than white ones to be employed in the public sector.

So despite the feel-good headlines at the end of last week, things continue to look bleak for Black folks who are unemployed. The Times report goes on to say that Black public sector workers earn on average 25 percent more than other Black workers, and that African Americans are overrepresented in this arena in part because racial discrimination kept us from well-paying jobs in the private sector for so long. The article and the editorial that quickly followed are reminders of why ColorOfChange campaigns for economic justice (like the one we launched in response to attacks in Wisconsin and Ohio) are so important.