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Business Briefs

Courtesy of Taylor Media Services | 1/12/2009, 4:19 p.m.

Unemployment Soars to 7.2 percent Hitting All Major Population Groups Hard

The nation€s unemployment rate soared to 7.2 percent last month as the economy loss 524,000 jobs. The current recession took jobs from all major population groups. Whites saw their jobless rate jump from 6.2 percent in November to 6.6 percent in December. Black unemployment rose from 11.3 percent to 11.9 percent while joblessness for Hispanics increased from 8.6 percent to 9.2 percent. Unemployment for Asians stood at a seasonally unadjusted 5.1 percent.

According to the Labor Department, this time last year, joblessness stood at just 4.9 percent. Currently, there are 11.1 million Americans looking for work and unable to find it. For those still working, average weekly earnings fell slightly from $613.39 in November to $611.39 in December.

The current recession is now in its 13th month with economists are unsure when it will end. President-elect Barack Obama has been on Capitol Hill pushing for quick passage of his economic stimulus package which would pump an estimated $775 billion into the economy. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is projecting it will be mid-to-late February before that plan can make its way through Congress.

Experts Say 2008 Was Financially a Bad Year for Blacks and 2009 May Be Worse

For African Americans, €2008 was not a good year, and unfortunately, it looks like things will get worse.€ Those words came last week from Algernon Austin - Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

Austin was among experts and studies cited last week by various publications trying to determine the specific nature of the impact the 13 month long recession is having on African Americans. The general conclusion was that Blacks, especially the Black middle class, are under severe economic attack.

Jon Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy Research, explained, €Whenever there is an economic downturn, African Americans are the most negatively affected.€ Economists also generally agreed that the sub-prime mortgage loan debacle severely undercut Black wealth.

Referring to the number of Blacks losing their homes as a result of the mortgage crisis, a Boston-based non profit organization United for a Fair Economy issued a report which concluded, €This represents the greatest loss of wealth for people of color in modern U.S. history.€ The report was titled €Foreclosed State of the Dream 2008.