Economic Policy Institute’s Alaska Unemployment Stats: Natives 21.3% & Whites 6.9%, This Sharp Rise Happened At The End Of Sarah Palin’s Half Governorship. Gee…I Wonder Why?

In the Economic Policy Institute’s November 18th brief #289 entitled, “Different Race, Different Recession” they describe the difference between the white unemployment rate and the native unemployment rate in Alaska. White unemployment is 6.9% and native unemployment is 21.3%. This is a huge contributor to the social problems in the native communities. Poverty is the facilitator of most social ills. Alaska politicians brag about our low unemployment compared to other states while the Native people are having another Great Depression.

There are two very different experiences of the recession in some regions of the country. While Alaska and the Northern Plains states have had some of the lowest unemployment rates for whites since the start of the recession, these regions have had among the highest rates of joblessness for American Indians. This Issue Brief documents these extreme regional employment disparities as well as the smaller but still significant ones between American Indians and whites from the first half of 2007 to the first half of 2010. It presents American Indian and white unemployment rates and employment-to-population ratios nationally and broken down by region.

The key findings are:

• From the first half of 2007 to the first half of 2010, the American Indian unemployment rate nationally increased 7.7 percentage points to 15.2%. This increase was 1.6 times the size of the white increase.

• By the first half of 2010, the unemployment rate for Alaska Natives jumped 6.3 percentage points to 21.3%—the highest regional unemployment rate for American Indians.

• Since the start of the recession, American Indians in the Midwest (see Table 1 for the states within each region) experienced the greatest increase in unemployment, growing by 10.3 percentage points to 19.3%.

• By the first half of this year, slightly more than half—51.5%—of American Indians nationally were working, down from 58.3% in the first half of 2007.

• In the first half of this year, only 44% of American Indians in the Northern Plains were working, the worst employment rate for Native Americans regionally.

The employment situation is the worst for American Indians in some of the same regions where it is best for whites: Alaska and the Northern Plains.

Racial discrimination took a huge backwards step under Sarah Palin and then Sean Parnell. In 2007 the Native unemployment rate was 15.1% with a jump in 2010 to 21.3%. Sarah Palin’s lack of planning and failure to take action to decrease the crises in the Native villages due to global warming along with her failure to address the problems of finding work for those who have had to leave their villages is a glaringly huge example of her lack of qualification to be president. I guess it takes more than cookies and an evangelical conman to create jobs. The conclusion is obvious:

These are also the regions of the country where the ratio of the Native-to-non-Native population is among the highest (U.S. Census Bureau 2007). These facts raise the possibility that the problem of low employment rates among American Indians may be at least partially due to larger social and economic conflicts between the two groups.

The brief also discusses why the Bureau of Indian Affairs report on unemployment in the native population has statistics much lower than their report. The BIA leaves a lot of native people out of their report. They only include those who live on or near a reservation and receive BIA services.

When I lived in Nome and I said it was like a town in Mississippi in the 1950s I was not joking. That is not true of everyone of course, there are some who very strongly believe in equality in every way. I call them “the real Alaskans“. The problem with these small villages is bullies end up taking over in a lot of different ways and they get to project their prejudices in policy and weak personalities follow along. Lesser sycophant bullies have weak personalities. Those who stand up to them are often harmed with the help of a mob. It takes outside intervention to force a change. The BIA should have done something about a lot of things a long time ago.

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