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There has been dramatic increase in employment rate of African-American single women since the last decade. The combinations of expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), welfare reform policies, other supports for working poor families and a very healthy labor market at this time were identified as responsible factors. However, their male counterpart continued witnessing deterioration in employment rate. Despite the fact that, the black men in the labor force in 1990s benefited from the wage rise and general economic boom, it was not sufficient to compensate the negative secular inclination that has been dropping employment and labor force movement among young black men for the past decades. Although, there has been substantial work done to identify factors that could be responsible for this continue declination in this trend such as (Freeman and Rodgers 2000) but little indication has been achieved to justify the trend despite recorded increase in educational attainment and reduction in criminal activities within black men (Holzer and Offner 2002).
One will expect that black men might not have benefited from the welfare reform and the expansion of supports for custodial parents of children. But the extent to which their employment could have been affected by other demographic change like, increase in incarceration rates and the enforcement of the child support policy, has not really been established. Hence, the aim of this paper is to consider the impact of these two demographic factors on continuous decrease in employment rate of black men in Chicago. These two factors can be said to have affected young black men in Chigago and its impact on limiting the employment rate among them cannot be disregarded. This paper review past literatures to analyze the possible impact that these two factors could have on employment rate of young black men and conclude by suggesting possible solution to solving these problems.
It is established that employment rates among young black men have been declining for the past decades as stated by different scholars including (Cogan 1982). Bound and Freeman (1992) emphasis the declines beyond their relative employment rate in the 1980s to their wages too. More so, Kasarda (1995) indicated that the industrial and geographic shifts in employment which occur in 1970s and 1980s such as declining shares of employment in the manufacturing companies and in the center of cities extremely reduced the employment prospects of young black men.
In addition, the destructive factors that contributed to the declining wage opportunities which has encourage illegal means of income generating among young black men was analyzed in (Freeman 1992). However, few out of these research works were able to be updated further beyond 1980s in order to review the employment trend of young black men and the responsible factor. Therefore, the growth of these forces has not been certain especially in the late 1980s and 1990s. Though various studies throw light on the labor market disadvantages associated with weak education and cognitive skills, segregated discrimination. Most of these research works were cross-sectional in nature and shed little light on the trends over time in relative employment and income earning among the black men.
Furthermore, different literature has concentrated on recurring fluctuations in employment for different disadvantaged groups instead of secular changes (Hines et. al. 2001). These literatures confirmed that employment and earnings amid these disadvantaged groups are more seriously affected by the business cycle than those of other female counterparts. The desirable impacts of the booms in employment rates for young blacks in the late 1980s through to middle of 1990s were recognized by various scholars. But they made little effort to differentiate cyclical trends from secular trends in the employment rates of young blacks.
Demographic Factors affecting employment trend of young black men
Inability of different studies on this topic to sufficiently establish the factors responsible for the decrease in employment trend of black men suggest the need to consider other demographic factors such as incarceration of black men and enforcement of child support policy as part of the responsible factors.
In addition, figure 2 illustrates the increase in the number of black men incarcerated between 1980s and 1990s. Despite the crime rate that has reduce considerably over the course of the decades which is expected to have contributed to the increase in employment rate. Several young black men reentered the society with criminal records after a period of incarceration which is likely to be more of a factor accounting for declining employment among these set of group. Figure 1 and 2 shows that both incarceration rates and enforcement of child support policy increase dramatically between 1980s and 1990s and they were extremely focused on young black men community. The low employment rate of young black men were likely aggravated by an incarceration invocation on them (Travis et al. 2001). Employers are less interested to hire ex-convicts when there are other groups of comparable knowledge and skills. Many of the empirical evidence such as (Freeman 1992; Grogger 1995) support the notion that ex-offender status limits employments opportunities for young black men.
Additionally, the growing enforcement of child support tends to raise the expected value of the order against non-custodial parents, by raising the probability that any such order will have to be paid if one has regular earnings. It constitutes a large tax on the earnings of low-income of non-custodial fathers. Pirog et al. (1998) confirmed that child support policies for low-income non-custodial fathers are between the ranges of 20-35% of income. When combined with payroll taxes and phase-out ranges for food stamp benefits, the marginal tax rates on these men are usually as high as 60-80% (Primus 2002). However, if non-custodial fathers are behind in their child support, states will garnish up the 65% of their take-home pay to cover their child support payments, which is the federal limit on wage garnishment for debt purposes (Sorensen and Oliver 2002). These basically impede on the rate of employment of young black men.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Some broader policy change need to be effected to address the negative impact of incarceration and child support policy on employment of young black men. For instance, regarding incarceration, state should review the barriers to employment that they generate for ex-convict like starting the process of linking ex-offenders to the private sector labor market by reviewing the restrictions on the ability of private employer to use inmate labor and some other measures as suggested in (Holzer et al. 2004).
In addition regarding child support, states should be assisted in efforts to review the practices by which child support policy are developed for low-income black men, especially those with not source of income. Also, considerations need to be given to noncustodial fathers who genuinely make efforts to keep to policy but incapable to financially keep his obligation particularly when the arrears have accumulated while incarcerated.