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Status: Complete

A 1978 Milwaukee Journal survey of 990 Inner City Black Households found extremely
high levels of unemployment. It revealed a jobless rate of 58 percent. The low-
est unemployment rate, that of 41 percent, was found among 35 to 49 year olds.
Not surprisingly, the highest rate of unemployment in the 18-65 age range was
found among 18-24 year olds. Only 29 percent of these people were employed.2
Furthermore, a Milwaukee Sentinel article focusing on unemployment among Black
youth reported unemployment rates ranging from 17 to 32 percent for males and
females in the 16-17, 18-19, and 20-21 age groups.3

The absence of consistent, reliable, and accurate unemployment figures undoubt-
edly adds to the frustration of individuals who are working to alleviate, and
eventually eliminate the crisis. At this point, the full extent of the problem
can only be estimated.

Another issue, but one which has received considerably less attention from the
public, is faced by Blacks who are employed. While Black Milwaukeans have in-
creasingly been able to enter higher paying and more prestigious occupations,
substantial differences between the overall occupational structure of the Black
and non-Black labor forces still exist. Blacks are still more likely to be con-
centrated in lower paying and less skilled occupations. Although the percentages
of Blacks in white collar jobs did increase from 1950 to 1970, the largest growth
occurred in clerical and service jobs. The percentage of the Black labor force
employed in clerical and service jobs grew by 12.2 and 8.3 percentage points,
respectively. The growth in the "Professional" category was a more modest 5.8
percentage points.

So, in 1970, while some Blacks had improved their occupational positions, many
others were still concentrated in lower paying and less skilled jobs. Approx-
imately one third of all the Blacks in the city were employed as operatives.
This category includes a wide variety of jobs, ranging from bus and taxi drivers
to semi-skilled metal workers to gas station attendants to seamstresses. At
best, these jobs could be classed as semi-skilled; a large number of them are
unskilled. The proportion of Blacks employed as private household workers was
reduced by more than half since 1950. But still, nearly three times (propor-
tionately) more Blacks than non-Blacks are working as private servants.

It is difficult to make generalizations about the occupational categories utilized
by the Census Bureau because of the wide range of jobs that are included in each
category. However, it seems safe to say that the best paying, most skilled, and
most prestigious occupations are the following three: 1) professionals, 2)
managers, officials, and proprietors, and 3) craftsmen, foremen, and kindred
paying and more skilled jobs. In contrast, over a quarter (27.1% of the non-
Blacks were in these positions.

We are becoming a more educated nation, and Milwaukee is no exception to this
trend. Between 1950 and 1970, the median number of school years completed by
city residents rose from 9.1 to 11.9 years. In spite of the fact that the
overall picture is positive, Blacks have not experienced the same rates of ed-
ucational attainment nor the same levels of scholastic performance over the

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