No metro area has witnessed more precipitous erosion in the labor market for black males over the past 40 years than has Milwaukee. Once a region posting black male employment rates above the national average, by the turn of the 20th century Milwaukee’s black male employment rate had plummeted to among the lowest in the country. …Perhaps no statistic better epitomizes the severity of Milwaukee’s black male employment crisis: by 2010, barely more than half of African American males in their prime working years were employed, compared to 85 percent almost forty years ago.
This report is divided into three sections. First, we present the 2010 census data on employment rates in metro Milwaukee, by race and ethnicity, placing the recent data in historical perspective. Second, we examine employment rates in 40 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, not only surveying racial disparities in employment in 2010, but also examining trends in a number of these metro areas since the 1970s. These historical and comparative data provide an important benchmark for understanding labor market conditions in Milwaukee. Finally, and very briefly, we present some quite preliminary, working hypotheses of factors that may explain variations among metropolitan areas in black male employment rates. These factors may point towards new policies, as the deepening crisis of black male employment in Milwaukee and most metro areas across the country underscores the ineffectiveness of the current mix of policies and strategies.
Replacing Factories With Jails: Just 44% of Milwaukee’s Black Men in Workforce
Source: Roger Bybee, Today’s Workplace Blog, February 1st, 2012