This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

April 21, 1999

Behind the Unemployment Rate

255 days until January 1, 2000

There's been a lot of noise about the historically low unemployment rate. The rate continues to hover around 4.3, 4.5, or somewhere in that range . . . .a 28-year low. The legions of observers, commenting on the sidelines, proclaim that this low rate is sustainable and healthy for our economy.

Looking behind the numbers used to measure this rate in the US, we see some interesting statistics. At the end of January, the unemployment rate for whites was 3.8 percent. But the rate for blacks was 7.8 percent, and for Hispanics it was 6.6 percent.

Our forecast is that these differential rates will gradually equalize, but it will take some time. Deficiencies in education, work experience, and often negative attitudes of employers have depressed the employability of African American and Hispanic minorities.

As employers discover that the prime prospective employees are simply not available, the recruiters will seek different labor pools. They will hire blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities, because they need to hire somebody to get the job done.

African Americans and Hispanics brought into the mainline workforce will eagerly take advantage of any available education and training. This growth and development opportunity will facilitate the upward movement of a significant segment of the minority population groups.

All many of these workers need is a chance. Our low unemployment will give them the opportunities they need—to show what they can do and how they can move upwards on the ladder of success.

Employers can—and will—make a positive difference by helping their workers achieve at higher levels. Many of these upgraded employees will remain with their current companies. Even though there are people out there with more education, these fast-growing workers will be loyal and grateful for the opportunities.

As they remain employed for a longer period, these minority workers will develop greater life skills. Gradually—and for some it won't take that long, these workers will earn greater incomes, enabling them to move up the socioeconomic ladder much more quickly. . . and of course, fueling the economy as well.

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