MILWAUKEE -- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development looks at racial breakdowns in employment, and what they found was a dramatic deterioration in labor market conditions facing black males in Milwaukee, and that's raising a lot of concern.
The study lists staggering statistics regarding unemployment rates among African-American males in Milwaukee. The UWM Center for Economic Development study found fewer than half of black males living in Milwaukee, ages 16 to 64 were employed in 2010. UWM professor Marc Levine is the study's author. "For the first time now in many, many years, more African-American males in Milwaukee of working age are not, in fact, employed, than are employed, and that's a real crisis, we think, in the city," Levine said.
Levine says some of the big factors that have contributed to this high unemployment rate among African-American males is a loss of manufacturing jobs, and mass incarceration. "One of the stunning statistics we discovered in this year's report was that there are more African-American males admitted to prisons in Wisconsin in any given year than are currently employed in the factories in the City of Milwaukee," Levine said.
Milwaukee has lost several manufacturing jobs since the early 1970s, but Levine says that's not the only factor. "I think segregation is a big factor here. We're probably the most segregated metropolitan area in the country, and very few African-Americans live in the suburbs. The suburbs are where all the net job growth is occurring. In metropolitan Milwaukee, we have pretty bad transportation connections to those suburban job centers, so consequently, black males living in the city of Milwaukee find it very difficult to get out to those jobs," Levine said.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Eyon Biddle is working on creating a program called the "Biddle-Lipscomb Ready-to-Work Initiative" to combat this issue. "We're going to come up with a comprehensive workforce development solution, where we're taking people from the streets, off the streets, and training them for careers, and placing them into those paying jobs," Biddle said.
Check out the full UWM Center for Economic Development report by clicking here.
Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, Jr. issued a statement regarding this report. He says in his opinion, "the black male employment issue is Milwaukee's most pressing economic and social crisis, and its negative trend is affecting our children, families, our community and our entire city."