Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating Martin Luther King

As we celebrate and honor Martin Luther King day today, I have to wonder what the man himself would make of our nation's current employment situation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that as of January 7, 2011, the unemployment rate for the country as a whole stands at 9.4%. However, the white unemployment rate is at 8.5% in contrast with the black unemployment rate of 15.8%.

An article in the New York Times highlighted that the unemployment rate for college-educated men aged 25 or older was twice as high for black men than it was for white men. This information cannot simply be explained away. As an article on the black-white earnings gap observes: "numerous studies, in fact, find that not even half of the racial differences in test scores can be explained by family background and school quality. They also show that the economic returns to the test scores and their determinants vary by race and that even when test results are effectively equal, racial earnings gaps remain. So, plain discrimination remains part of the story."

A study of social networks found that more job leads for high level positions are received by white males than women and members of minorities, lending credence to the old adage that it's not necessarily what you know, but who you know that makes a difference in job hunting.

The gap between men and women continues despite the introduction of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. An article in Time magazine noted that women earned less than men in all industries and occupation groups surveyed by the Census Bureau in 2007, even in fields in which their numbers are overwhelming.  This trend shows no signs of abating.

The mommy track has an even greater effect on pay. Mothers not only earn less than men, but they also earn less than their childless female counterparts, according to recent research.

We have come a long way as a nation since Martin Luther King Jr's infamous speech. But it's not time to stop dreaming yet. All the evidence shows we still have a long way to go.

Have a great Monday, whatever you're doing today.


Organized Working Mom

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