A week ago, in the midst of this, the summer of the flash mob — groups of mostly black teens who have attacked non-blacks at random in public places — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter angrily lectured his city’s young black thugs:
If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you “cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. “You have damaged your own race.”
Of course, Nutter’s admonishment was necessary and overdue. But let’s face it. While in no way exonerating the criminals involved in this summer’s mayhem, you have to be blind in one eye and not be able to see out of the other not to recognize and admit that policies which black civil rights “leaders,” most big-city mayors of all races, and liberals in general have favored for decades have contributed mightily to today’s devolved black youth culture. In a supreme and bitter irony, America’s first African-American president (well, not really, but work with me here) and his party in Washington have sharply accelerated the damage during the past three years.
In difficult economic times, entry-level, less-skilled, and less-senior workers suffer the most. Sadly, blacks are overrepresented in these groups. Getting these workers into or back to productively contributing to society is why turning around an economy as quickly as possible after a serious downturn is so critical. It has been over three years since the beginning of the recession as normal people define it, roughly coinciding with the inception of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy, also known as the fear-based economy. It’s been over two years since the recession officially ended. The degree of turnaround needed to employ these workers is not happening. Indeed, the situation is getting worse.
The latest available census information, bumped up by a bit, tells us that there are about 2.8 million African-Americans in the 16-19 age group. As of July, according to not seasonally adjusted data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
• 433,000, or 15%, had jobs. By contrast, in July 2006, over 700,000 African-American teens were working. In July 1998, among a smaller population, over 900,000 were.
• 306,000, or 11%, were unemployed.
• 740,000, or 26%, were working or looking for work. In July 2006, that number was over 1.1 million. In July 1998, it was over 1.3 million.
• The remaining 2.06 million, an astonishing 74%, during the peak month of teen summer employment, were not in the workforce.
The equivalent July 2011 percentages for whites, over which there is no cause to jump for joy, were 35% employed, 11% unemployed, and 54% not in the workforce. While there is a clearly a teen workplace disengagement epidemic among whites, in the black community it’s a full-blown plague.
This returns us to Mr. Nutter, a large percentage of his mayoral colleagues around the country, the leftists who control most urban areas, and Washington’s Democratic Party establishment. It is all too telling that one of the pet excuses for high black teen unemployment this summer, as seen in a Cleveland Plain Dealer item back in June, is that the stimulus programs which funded some teen summer jobs in 2009 and 2010 with money that we as a country didn’t have weren’t available this year.
That copout doesn’t cut it, not after decades of liberal government policies and negative cultural influences which have betrayed the hopes and dreams of millions of young blacks, and which are largely responsible for creating the dangerous conditions underlying this summer’s flash mob outbreak. Here are just a few of the financial and economic factors, besides the aforementioned Democrat-driven recession and “Rebound? What Rebound?” recovery:
• Minimum wage laws. Total employment in all age groups dropped less than 4% from July 2006 to July 2011. Meanwhile, the minimum wage went from $5.15 in 2006 to its current $7.25, and black teen employment dropped by 38%. That’s not a coincidence.
• Taxes and regulation. Urban property, income, and other taxes are generally higher than in surrounding communities. Additionally, the larger the city, the more likely it is that there will be dedicated groups of environmental zealots and other corporate harassers, some with city government and others in “advocacy groups,” whose mission is to make life miserable for job providers, and who seem to consider it a victory when businesses leave or fail. Because of these unnecessary burdens, companies have been voting with their feet and taking their jobs to lower-tax instate and out-of-state suburbs and exurbs for decades. Surprise, surprise (not): As a result, fewer low-skilled and summer-job opportunities are available for urban teens.
• Entitlement dependency. Sadly, blacks make up a disproportionate percentage of the food stamp, Section 8 housing, and traditional welfare rolls. Teens who get jobs can cause their families to lose partial or full eligibility for these programs. Gainful employment can also reduce the amount of available federal college aid. It’s a lot easier to just stay at home, hang out, and potentially get in trouble.
While Mayor Nutter deserves some credit for calling out the teen hoodlums in his midst, it’s hard to take him seriously as someone who really wants to go after the black teen unemployment problem. You see, he has a lot in common with this country’s chief executive.
While Barack Obama was on a three-state bus tour this week in “Greyhound One,” shattering all previous presidential records for whining and excuse-making, Nutter, a deputy mayor, and the city’s water commissioner were on a junket in Rio de Janeiro accompanying Lisa Jackson, who heads Obama’s job-killing Environmental Protection Agency. Their objective: “to listen, learn, and lend their expertise on green development.” Nutter’s ultimate goal: “to make Philadelphia the greenest city in the country.”
Any manufacturer who hasn’t yet left the City of Brotherly Love will likely be giving it serious consideration shortly. What will that do for the job prospects of the city’s black teens, or for that matter its other unskilled or unemployed residents?