The Full Cost Of Black Men’s Joblessness Is About $50 Billion A Year


Black men have consistently had the highest annual unemployment rate for the last 20 years.

But wait. There’s more.

In a new report, Algernon Austin assesses three major factors that contribute to the undercount of jobless Black men, and calculates the full cost that joblessness has on Black communities and the US economy in general.

A problem with the official labor market statistics is that they do not include the Black men who are incarcerated or allow for the economic impact of higher mortality rates among Black men.

Incarceration and mortality both significantly reduce the Black male labor force and are hidden factors which deprive Black communities of Black men’s potential incomes. As Austin explains to WPFW, “If Black men had similar opportunities . . . to what white men have, there would be 1.4 million more Black men working.” The full cost of Black men’s joblessness is about $50 billion a year.

“Now that we know the crisis is three times worse than we think it is—or four times worse, if we factor in incarceration and mortality—maybe policymakers will be spurred to act,” said Austin.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives.

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