As a Black College Graduate, Do you Face Limited Job Prospects?

A recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, cited in the Huffington Post article, “The Job Market Discriminates Against Black College Grads,” indicates that the 2013 unemployment rate for recent black college graduates is over twice that of recent college grads overall – 12.4 percent as compared to 5.6 percent. The disparity is largely attributed to job market discrimination.  For example, research is cited which shows that “black sounding names” were less likely to get called back for an interview than their counterparts with the same qualifications who had “white sounding names.” The article goes on to demonstrate that black men tend to be underrepresented in management and professional occupations and over-represented in low wage work.

Our Diversity Jobs Report corroborates these conclusions with data showing that while African Americans are strongly represented in typically low wage industry sectors including Transportation and Utilities, they remain underrepresented in industries such as Financial Activities. During April 2014, African Americans comprised just over 12 percent of the total workforce, yet, they made up almost 17 percent of the overall labor force in the Transportation and Utilities sector while only making up 8 percent of the overall labor force in the Financial Activities sector.

What accounts for this giant disparity and, more importantly, what is being done to address it?

In her 2013 book, The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism, DiTomaso indicates that racial inequality isn’t rooted exclusively in racist ideas or conscious efforts to exclude some groups from distinct opportunities. Instead, she argues that informal networks allow whites, who still hold most of the decision-making positions in the private economy, to hoard and distribute advantage among their family and friends, who tend to be mostly white. In other words, people hire people who resemble themselves.

Networking can provide the key to breaking into these exclusive “clubs.”

Professional Diversity Network is addressing the country’s racial wealth gap through its commitment to connecting diverse professionals, including African Americans, with employers who value diversity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. Through free access to online affinity networking communities, Professional Diversity Network enables professionals of common cultures and interests to connect with the purpose of working towards a common goal of professional development.

In the Huffington Post article, experts note that a person starting out at a disadvantage straight out of college will face the economic consequences over a lifetime. This means that African Americans will continue to experience a wide racial wealth gap throughout the course of their working lives. Networking can provide a viable option to help combat the discrimination and exclusion that African American college graduates experience.

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