Long-Term Unemployment Hard To Dig Out From The pain of current unemployment rates has been keenly felt by the white working class, where men in particular have seen long-term jobs turn into long-term joblessness. It's a trend that hit black working-class men 30 years ago with the decline of the industrial economy, and the effects it had on families and neighborhoods then are happening again.
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Long-Term Unemployment Hard To Dig Out From

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Long-Term Unemployment Hard To Dig Out From

Long-Term Unemployment Hard To Dig Out From

Long-Term Unemployment Hard To Dig Out From

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The pain of current unemployment rates has been keenly felt by the white working class, where men in particular have seen long-term jobs turn into long-term joblessness. It's a trend that hit black working-class men 30 years ago with the decline of the industrial economy, and the effects it had on families and neighborhoods then are happening again.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Juan, good morning.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Who's been through this story before, the story that seems to be affecting white men now?

WILLIAMS: And that's also the period when you saw a tremendous expansion in terms of young black men experiencing record levels of unemployment. This was during the course of that recession.

INSKEEP: Let's remember that historic period of time. There'd been the civil rights movement. There'd been improvement - there'd been a spread, rather, of union activity. There were a lot of blue collar jobs for African-Americans for a while. And these are the jobs - manufacturing jobs that went away as the economy shifted drastically in the early '80s, right?

WILLIAMS: That was a tremendously crippling period for black American men. And one that they really haven't recovered from even as we go forward, because, you know, black unemployment remains very high right now.

INSKEEP: So now you're focusing on white men, one of the groups here that seems to be going through a similar retrenchment. Serious, serious suffering loss of manufacturing jobs. What are some of the possible effects of that?

WILLIAMS: So when you add that to the idea of the average length of unemployment now, being at a historic high - more than 31 weeks - what you're seeing is white men going through something very similar to what black men went through a long time ago and it having the same consequential effect on sociological issues, and, I might add, on politics.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about the politics. What are some of the political effects, as best you can judge them?

WILLIAMS: And those are people who say they are now less likely to vote for Democrats in the fall. So part of this, I think, is tied into what we see going on in terms of American politics - people who feel that this administration may be looking out for Wall Street, may be looking out for the poor or immigrants in terms of health care reform, but not looking out for them.

INSKEEP: Juan, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR news analyst Juan Williams.

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