NEW YORK— The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released in March, found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72 percent parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close.
Medgar Evers College, whose student body is nearly 90 percent black, is filled with hard-working students fulfilling their degree requirements. But unlike their white peers, African Americans overall are statistically much more likely to be unemployed, according to findings from the 2015 State of Black America report by the National Urban League.
Despite annual increases in high school graduation and college attendance rates, unemployment figures for blacks are as high as 20 percent in seven of the country's largest cities. The current national unemployment rate is 5.5 percent.
"The recession is, 'over', except that the recession is still raging in many urban communities," said Urban League President Marc Morial.
The study links education and joblessness, says Morial. He points to the 36 percent national proficiency gap between blacks and whites in math and reading as a major indicator of future inequality.
“The United States must close the gaps - must close the achievement gap, must close the jobs gap - it is essential to America’s economic competitiveness in the 21st Century," he said.
Medgar Evers College, which hosted the report’s release, is taking proactive steps to make sure graduates are ready for the workplace.
“More and more we’re having everything from career days to a real focus on the network, if you will, that it takes not just to enter your chosen career but to really get the job that you want," said Medgar Evers College President Rudy Crew.
College senior Shemroy Primo interned with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office to make himself a more attractive candidate for law schools.
He says he was disappointed but not surprised by the study’s findings.
“But as a black man, it’s really hard out there in the job market. I went to high school in Brooklyn, East New York, so I have a lot of friends who are really looking up to me and really proud of me because I’ve taken a different route, I’ve gone to college. I’m a senior, I’m a rising senior and I plan to go to law school," said Primo.
However, the Urban League study indicates there is still employment bias.
“One thing that was troubling was that even when a black person had the same academic background, the unemployment rates seems to be still higher for black Americans. People ask me why and I think it is the presence still of exclusion and discrimination in the work force to some extent," said Morial.
Because of this, Primo says he must work twice as hard to earn a spot in the workplace.