Report: African American Men in New Orleans Are An Untapped Workforce

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Beleaguered by high unemployment and an economy drifting away from blue-collar jobs that had kept many African-American men employed in past decades, New Orleans needs to do a better job of educating and advancing the careers of black men, according to a report that Loyola University released Wednesday.

The report, published by the Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy, describes black men, who account for 26 percent of the city’s population that is able to work, as an untapped resource as the city’s growing construction and manufacturing businesses place more and more value on education beyond a high school diploma.

“If New Orleans is to substantially reverse decades of economic decline, high crime rates, and a shrinking city tax base, then greater educational attainment and economic progress for African-American men will be critical,” the report’s conclusion states.

The report, coupled with another from the New Orleans Fatherhood Consortium that advocates for better data to be collected on men as parents, came about from patterns that Boggs Center Director Petrice Sams-Abiodun noticed in her research as a family demographer.

“Our primary goal was to think about the recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans,” she said, and in doing that, to be “sure to be very vocal that poor or marginalized men, and in particular African-American men, had access to opportunities.”

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