The French have a saying that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Four years ago, unemployment was high-and it remains so today.
As a case in point, in 2009, the Bronx had an unemployment rate of 13 percent and Brooklyn was 10.9 percent.
In 2012, the Bronx unemployment rate was 11.9 percent (the highest unemployment in New York State) and Brooklyn was still hovering around 10 percent.
When you start digging a little deeper in the neighborhoods of Bronx and Brooklyn, there are pockets of very high unemployment rates, but factoring in the entire borough in each case makes the rate appear better than what it really is.
The map below tells the tale of unemployment in New York, and it shows that the other three boroughs aren’t exactly faring much better. When the average rate is compiled, New York City comes out with an 8.8 percent unemployment rate, a full percent higher than the national rate as of December 2012.
Unfortunately, the continued high unemployment in the city and country was barely addressed by President Obama in his inaugural speech. He uttered a line about the economy improving, then entered into a discourse on the need to address global warming by boosting the American clean energy industry.
In a recent study, the Brookings Institute found that there were more than 2.7 million Americans employed in the clean energy industry as of 2010. The clean energy sector’s growth was twice that of the overall economy at the height of the Great Recession.
There is progress, but if the alternative energy sector is going to be the savior the American economy, it has more work to do- like finding solid jobs for the millions who are unemployed and the thousands of others working two or more part-time gigs to barely make ends meet.
The International Labor Organization reported that the number of jobless worldwide will increase to more than 202 million by next year. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has urged governments to focus on “growth that can actually deliver jobs.”
It won’t comfort many, but it appears that the Bronx and Brooklyn are in as much trouble as other parts of the world when it comes to finding work. In both cases, it’s the young people who are faced with long-term unemployment even before their careers have started.
The world is now globally connected, but what happens on the block on which you live is still of paramount importance. The continuing unemployment problem must be addressed on both the city, state, federal and world-wide level. Washington cannot afford to ignore it any longer.