Many black women today ascribe their accomplishments to unseen #BlackGirlMagic. The real source of our success is not in fairy dust or super powers. It’s our resilience and ambition directed toward a goal as we compete in an economic system that values risk-taking and perseverance.
So, it’s disempowering when activists like Serena Williams use fake holidays like the Black Women’s Equal Payday to portray black women as the victims of gender and race-driven discrimination. The real villains of our economic success are the policies that redistribute our earnings and the regulations that lock us out of opportunity.
Black women are making impressive strides in the labor market — closing gaps relative to our white female counterparts. Nearly two out of three black women (62.5 percent) participates in the labor force, beating out both white (57.9 percent) and Hispanic women (59.1 percent) per BLS data. They also outperform Hispanic women and black men as a recent Federal Reserve research paper demonstrates.
The recent blockbuster jobs report of 209,000 jobs added in June inspires confidence in the labor market, but there’s work to do for black women. While the national unemployment rate is holding steady at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent, the unemployment rate for black women is at 7.4 percent — almost double the national average, double that of our white female counterparts (3.6 percent), and higher than unemployment for Hispanic females (5.3 percent).
One of the darker spots of the monthly jobs report is underemployment. Some 5.2 million Americans who want full-time, 40-hour-a-week jobs were only working part-time positions. That number is down just a few hundred thousand workers from July 2016. Black women comprised nearly half a million of those underemployed workers and their underemployment rate outpaces that of working white, Hispanic, and Asian women.
The challenge is how to ensure that black women can find full-time and financially fulfilling work. Continue reading...