Study: Boston's Minority Youth Ill-Prepared For Job Market

By Phillip Martin

Dec. 6, 2010

BOSTON — A new wave of poor young minorities in Boston are ill-prepared for the future job market — and that could lead to a large labor pool of unemployed youth.

17-year-old Jason Leonore (front) looks for a job at the Mattapan branch of the Boston Public Library. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

That's according to a new study, "The State of Black Boston," by Tufts University professor James Jennings, who analyzed data from the 2006-2008 census to get a picture of current social and economic conditions within Boston’s black communities.

According to the report, poor minority youth face daunting educational and socioeconomic disadvantages. The study found that blacks 25 and older are more than twice as likely as whites to not have a high-school diploma. Even minorities with a college education were found to have a comparative disadvantage.

Jeremy Irving of Mattapan says he's living it. He has a degree in computer programming, but for the past eight months he’s been looking for any job that pays.

"Within the eight months I’ve applied for more than 200 jobs and I haven’t received a call. And I applied at Home Depot. Actually I applied for five jobs within Home Depot," Iriving said.

For minority youth without a degree, the prospects are even tougher. About a third of all blacks and Latinos in Boston are 17 or under, compared to about 13 percent of whites are in that age group. According to the report, very few poor minorities will go on to college, leading not only to a large pool of unemployed, but also underemployed, and in many cases, unemployable adults.

The Urban League and the NAACP —which commissioned the study—are calling community wide meetings this week to discuss its conclusions.

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