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of the country on foundation business, and my devotion to this subject and my great respect for you and the tremendous work that you've done in this area encouraged me to accept the invitation despite somewhat difficult timing. But I would like to make a brief statement. I did want to come because I think this is a critical issue.
We have some views that perhaps would be helpful. First, let me say that I think, certainly, the question of the employment and income differential between minorities, especially blacks and Hispanics, and others is a matter-or certainly should be a matter of great public concern. It is a differential that has limited the opportunities for minorities in this country for many years. And if we do not continue to focus on this and develop ways and means for reducing the differential, then we will never be in a position for minorities to fulfill their hopes and aspirations for the good life that this Nation has to offer.
I believe that the state of the economy is a major factor affecting this differential and the opportunities of influencing minority economic status. I think if we look over the last several years, however, we find something that is very interesting. We find that the American economy has produced a significant number of jobs. The rate of job creation in the American economy has been very vigorous over the past several
In 1977, I believe, something more than 3 million new jobs were created. However, despite that job creation, the evidence shows that the experience among minorities has been somewhat unfavorable. Despite the great increase in the number of jobs newly created in the American economy, the rate of unemployment among blacks has not declined very much. And the rate of unemployment among black youth, in particular, has been very sticky downward.
I like to think, Congressman, that blacks are like the caboose on the train. When the train speeds up, blacks speed up. When the train slows down, the caboose slows down. But it is in the nature of the case that the caboose never seems to approach the position of the engine.
Now, if we look over the past several years, not only has that been the case but it seems almost as if the caboose has been shifted to another track. That is to say that we have a very serious problem of unemployment, the lack of economic progress among minority groups, even when there is vigorous job creation in the American economy.
I think that in looking ahead we have to recognize that the problem here is one having to do with job opportunities for minorities. That is the major problem and that is where most of the emphasis should be in our manpower and employment policies. I think we need targeted labor and employment policies. I think we need targeted labor market programs to improve the relative position of minorities and especially minority youth. We need targeted employment instruments in order to reach the full employment of these groups and in the process contribute to the attainment of full employment for the economy at large. Now, there are many who suggest that with respect to youth unemployment, if we just leave things alone and let demographic forces have their play, this problem will solve itself. Indeed, there are those who suggest that the changes in the number of young people in the labor force will contribute to a sharp reduction in their unemployment. Let me make it clear that I am not one who shares that view, especially with respect to minority youth.
I am one who believes the outlook for this economy over the next 5 years is one of relatively slow growth and relatively high inflation, through 1985.
I suspect that in that type of an environment what we will see is continued competition among groups. We will also see some reduction in the rate of growth in the number of young whites in the labor force. But there is very little evidence-in fact there is evidence to suggest that minority youth will not decline in significant numbers, but in fact, that the growth in the number of these two groups, 16 to 24, will diverge.
From 1977 through 1990, for example, there is expected to be very little change in the numbers of blacks between the ages of 16 and 24, while the number of whites in that age category is expected to decline. And so those who look at demographic changes as the potential source of solution to the problem of minority youth unemployment, I think, are barking up the wrong tree. They are looking in the wrong place. and the wish might be the father of the thought, but the result is likely to be otherwise.
It is especially likely to be otherwise to the degree that the minority youth continue to be heavily concentrated in areas that are suffering from limited job creation in the private sector, very limited opportunities in small business and midsized business opportunities in the cities, and, in fact, in some rural areas.
I think that if we look at where these young people are located, you will see there that they are not located in the places where jobs are expanding very rapidly. Now, there is some evidence from recent studies of youth unemployment conducted by such organizations as the National Bureau of Economic Research, Ohio State University's "Study of the National Longitudinal Survey," in which Professor Adams played a role in the analysis of some of those data, also research on the entitlement program that tell us a little bit more than we knew before about the nature of the problem of youth unemployment, and provide some guidelines on what might be useful approaches for getting at these problems.
I might add here that the Rockefeller Foundation is pleased to support some of that research and is continuing to address this issue. În fact, the foundation in 1977 developed a major new program to address the problems of minority youth unemployment, and that was in part one of the reasons I was invited to accept my present position and to take leave from the Wharton School, where I was a member of the faculty for 7 years.
I think that out of this research there are several things that we can see. One is that there is only a relatively small number of youth who are in serious need, with respect to the inability to find jobs, and a serious problem of unemployment. The group is heavily concentrated in low-income minority youth, who have serious difficulties finding the first job. Many youth who are unemployed today are unemployed in the process of looking for a job, but if you look at their income, if you look at certain family characteristics, educational qualifications and so forth, it would be difficult to say that their unemployment would lead one to conclude that they are in serious distress.
However, certainly a significant number of monority youth are in serious distress as a result of their unemployment experiences and the data that I have seen, at least, suggest to me that this group should be the object of great attention and public policy.
LJOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
(Created pursuant to sec. 5(a) of Public Law 304, 79th Cong.)
RICHARD BOLLING, Missouri, Vice Chairman
WILLIAM PROXMIRE, Wisconsin
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HENRY S. REUSS, Wisconsin
WILLIAM S. MOORHEAD, Pennsylvania
LEE H. HAMILTON, Indiana
GILLIS W. LONG, Louisiana
PARREN J. MITCHELL, Maryland
CLARENCE J. BROWN, Ohio
MARGARET M. HECKLER, Massachusetts
JOHN M. ALBERTINE, Executive Director