Probably the most pervasive myth in the American lexicon is that the U.S. is a meritocracy. The reason affirmative action exists is to thwart the entrenched bias in education and employment, but now that neo-liberals and conservatives are leaning toward a color-blind approach, it is imperative that those on the forefront of these debates draw attention to rampant bias that still exists in the U.S.
When it comes to employment, a white high school drop-out has the same chance of getting a job as a black college graduate. That fact alone highlights the level of bias still present in the U.S., but it doesn’t end there.
According to ThinkProgress, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census researched how race impacts education and employment and the result should disabuse anyone of the notion that the U.S. is even close to becoming a post-racial society. The study found that a black man with an associates degree has the same chance of getting a job as a white man with only a high school diploma.
“At every level of education, race impacts a person’s chance of getting a job,” researcher Tom Allison told ThinkProgress. This fact is evidenced not only by the overall unemployment rate, but the unemployment rate for black millennials, which was 16.6 percent in May, as compared to 7.1 percent for white millennials.
What are all the factors contributing to a high unemployment rate for blacks?
The study attributes the employment gap mainly to hiring discrimination, high incarceration rates for black people, and African Americans’ lack of inherited wealth from past generations due to a long history of discrimination. Less inherited wealth results in low homeownership rates and high deficits among African Americans: While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated black American has a net worth of less than $17,500.
There is a bright light though, considering that, according to Rory O’Sullivan of the Young Invincibles’, blacks do much better when they obtain advanced degrees. As an example, “a professional degree gives a black male a 146 percent larger increase in employment opportunities than his white counterparts.”