(October 5, 2011) More than 100 unemployed and underemployed workers were joined by hundreds of supporters as they spoke out on crumbling bridges, run down schools, and jobless at-risk youth during the American Dream Movement Rally to ?Demand Jobs Not Cuts.? - Washington, DC - Photo by David Sachs / SEIU

Another month, another sign that the economy isn’t improving: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate—-9.1 percent—-is unchanged, and about 103,000 jobs were added to the economy last month. In a timely move, The Root D.C. went over to Ward 8, where unemployment is at 20 percent, to talk to some skilled laborers who can’t find jobs, including 53-year-old Tyrone Jackson:

By trade I’m an electrician. I’ve always wanted to be one. Yup. And I can’t get a job in D.C.

Sometimes, I just go down to the work sites and check out these people who are working. I see 20 or 30 electricians coming out and none of them look like me. It’s been terrible, as far as this working relationship goes with Washington, D.C.

All I see is cranes in this city: They’ve got cranes on 7th street. They’ve got cranes all up and down on 14th street. All these cranes in this city and I ain’t working.

I started in 1983. I’m 53 years old and I don’t have a pension. Nothing. It’s been terrible. It really has. Even my own union can’t help find me work. They tell me there’s nothing we can do. I never thought it would be like this. I never did. It’s always excuse after excuse after excuse.

Statistics show that the longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for them to get a job. In some cases, that’s because their skills are eroding. But, in others, it’s because unemployment, even in this economy, is considered by employers to be a personal failing. And for many African Americans who never actually recovered from the early-2000s recession, long-term unemployment has been a part of the picture since before 2008.

While economists and politicians fret over 9.1 percent employment nationwide, unemployment for blacks has only dropped below nine percent a handful of times since employment statistics started being recorded. Compound that with racial bias—-yes, it still exists—-and all of these things add up to a dire employment situation for black Americans.

Photo by the SEIU via Flickr / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License