Since the March on Washington,a march for “Jobs and Freedom,” a lot has changed for African Americans, but one thing that remains the same is that for the past six decades, the unemployment rate for blacks is almost double what it is for whites (Desilver 1). Even during the Great Recession, an economic decline observed in world markets during the late 2000s and early 2010s, when many Americans experienced job losses and relatively high unemployment rates in all racial groups, no group suffered more than Africans Americans. The unemployment rate is defined by The Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) as people who are jobless, actively seeking work, and available to take a job. The unemployment rate is crucial to determining the position of various groups in the labor market. With this in mind, it is unfortunately obvious that Africans American still bear high unemployment levels, something that more politicians should address. But there are many obstacles and reasons that impede African Americans from benefitting from the labor/economic growth. This raises the question: Why do African Americans struggle to remain employed today compared to whites, and how can might this be changed? Reasons include long unemployment spells, the “last hired, first fired” hypothesis, and discrimination that is still seen in the workplace, that cause higher rates of black unemployment. There are other solutions that could decrease the unemployment gap between blacks and whites like more job training and job creation programs aimed towards blacks, more help directed towards ex-offenders to transition back into society, less discrimination in the workplace, and a stronger unemployment insurance system. It was not until the 1970s that blacks were able to compete for equal job opportunities with whites. Signed by Nixon in 1969, Executive Order 11478 purpose was to“provide equal opportunity in Federal employment for all persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin”, therefore promoting equal opportunities of employment. Although these affirmative action policies try to level the playing field, making equal opportunities appears to be more attainable. However, even with the increase of opportunities for people of color, many still encounter obstacles to obtaining employment. Recently the black unemployment rate averaged 7.3 percent November 2017 compared to whites 3.6 percent in the same period(BLS). One clear cause for lower unemployment rates, are the lower levels of education for African Americans. Blacks usually attend lower quality schools in comparison to whites, which explains how whites acquire a higher education (Lang and Manove 4). In primary race groups, higher levels of education are commonly associated with a better chance of being employed (BLS Report) Some experts argue, like Jared Bernstein former Chief Economics for Joe Biden, racial gaps in jobs are explained by education differences between blacks and whites (Bernstein 1). However data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) show that differences in education can’t explain completely the entirety of the unemployment gap. According to Valerie Wilson, of University of North Carolina with a PhD Economics, black unemployment is still twice as high than that of whites at all degrees of educational attainment(1). 2017 Census data, unsurprisingly shows people who did not attend college, to have a higher unemployment rate. For whites with less than a highschool diploma, their unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, yet African Americans unemployment rate is 11.2, which is almost three times higher (BLS 2017). This trend is still seen with a bachelor’s degree or higher with an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent for blacks as to 2.4 percent for whites with the same qualification(BLS). In addition, people of color have unemployment rates similar or higher than less educated whites(Wilson 2015, 1). For example blacks with some form of college or associate degree still has a higher unemployment rate than whites with less than a highschool diploma:6.0 percent versus 4.1 percent(BLS 2017). Wilson states that “this disparity suggests a race penalty whereby blacks at each level of education have unemployment rates that are the same as or higher than less educated whites.” Another reason that African American unemployment rates are higher is because of the phenomenon called the “first fired, last hired’ hypothesis which states that blacks are the last hired during periods of economic growth and the first fired in recessions. Looking at data from the Great Recession and its outcome, helps demonstrate this point. An article from the Center of American Progress explains, the Great Recession was between the year 2007-2009, and during this period unemployment rates for whites increased 4.3 percent points while blacks were seeing an increase in 6.4 percent points(Weller and Field 4). Furthermore, during the economic growth period right after 2009, the white employment began decreasing, even though black unemployment had yet to drop. This hypothesis also applies to the prior recession of 2001. The high unemployment rate for blacks still remained larger in comparison to other racial groups,with an increase by one percentage point, versus only half a percentage point for whites (Weller and Field 4). In a joint academic journal by Kenneth A. Couch, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics and Robert Fairlie, University of California, Department of Economics, Santa Cruz, note that “when the economy weakens, the unemployment rate of blacks—always higher than that of whites—rises by a larger number of percentage points and results in a larger relative decline in employment”(228) proving that the “first fired, last hired” is valid.Discrimination is another obstacle African Americans face when finding employment. In a Economic Policy Institute study, they found that some scholars, like William Julius Wilson, argue that companies do not hire blacks because they “lack the soft skills that their jobs require: the tendency to maintain eye contact, the ability to carry on polite and friendly conversations with consumers, the inclination to smile and be responsive to consumer requests” (Wilson 2009, 77).Soft skills are usually associated with jobs that require customer services, in comparison to service industry jobs like, construction or maintenance occupations. Darrick Hamilton, who co-authored the Whiter Jobs, Higher Wages paper with EPI’s Austin and Duke University Professor William Darity, argue the lack of soft skills is an overgeneralization and does not correlate why blacks still have harder time finding jobs. In their occupation-based analysis, African Americans are most underrepresented in manufacturing, maintenance, and construction. On the other hand, in service industries blacks are the most represented, therefore proving that lack of soft skills did not play a large role in justifying racial differences in the labor market (Hamilton et al. 6). Though all blacks clearly do not lack soft skills, labor market discrimination still remains. One solution to help raise black unemployment rates, is making the Unemployment Insurance system more inclusive for African Americans. Unemployment Insurance, is benefits given by the government and funded by taxes, to workers that have become unemployed, through no fault of their own(Employment Development Department). Since people of color are more likely to have low-wage jobs, they are less likely to be qualify for unemployment insurance (Weller and Field 3).Economists Heather Boushey and Eizenga at Center for American Progress, propose making Unemployment Insurance more far reaching, by extending the amount of weeks unemployed workers can claim benefits. Though this does not resolve the matter of ineligibility for unemployment insurance, it does extend coverage for those eligible, therefore producing a increase of money flow into the economy, allowing unemployed blacks to find new jobs, setting up an atmosphere that encourages job creation.Another strategy to decreasing blacks unemployment rate, is to emphasize more job training and job creation programs.Adam Smith, an economist, disagrees with concept apprenticeship in his book The Wealth of Nations,saying that lack of skill is not the biggest concern of somebody hiring(104), however since its been published in 1776, many factors have changed regarding skill needed for employment.Now apprenticeships are beneficial to African Americans in advancing youth development and improving employment chances. By expanding Career Academies that offer a wide range of fields, like the Summer Youth Employment Program, apprenticeships offer valuable work experience that help give African Americans better chances of employment (Spaulding et al 28). In an Urban Institute research report on expanding economic opportunities for people of color, they discuss how apprenticeship programs “ have been shown to help participants obtain high-wage jobs and career potential”(Spaulding et al 10). Expanding apprenticeships does not promise employment for people of color,but it enhances their chances for opportunities considerably. Majority of incarceration in the United States comes from African Americans, who make up about 40 percent of the prison population, but less than 15 percent the U.S population (Prison Legal News). Ex-offenders have a harder time finding employment, because applicants are forced to report their criminal records to employers, thus by just having a history of incarceration, it lowers the possibility of their employment. An example of a approach to increase employment and minimize the barriers ex-offenders face is Project H.O.P.E ( Helping Offenders Pursue Excellence) in Alabama. Project H.O.P.E’s objective is to “ address the needs of re-entering ex-offenders in order to make their transition back into mainstream society a success”(U.S Department of Justice). With more programs like Project H.O.P.E that continue to help ex-offenders, the African American unemployment rate could lower significantly.Finally, in Richard Nixon’s “Address to the Nation on Labor Day” in 1971 he states that people “must open up new and equal opportunities to allow a person to grow in his work”. This possibly foreshadows him signing the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 that put emphasis on “expanding education and economic opportunities for African Americans” (Nixon Foundation). Since Nixon’s presidency the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) has made improvements, by reducing racial discrimination in workplaces. EEOC Chair, Jenny Yang, recognizes the progress, but also admits that many workers are still targeted to discrimination that limits their employment opportunities. 35 percent of charges filed to EEOC are because of race discrimination, and for those reason EEOC is investing in methods that “identify the underlying problems and develop a way to open doors of opportunity” to African Americans(Yang). Other programs like,The Department of Justice and Office of Federal Contract Compliance, should follow EEOC’s example by implementing stronger policies that prevent labor market discrimination, and increase employment for all people of color. Before the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans faced depression like unemployment, making it almost impossible to find work. In today’s labor market blacks hold better positions, but still have higher unemployment rates compared to whites who have the lowest unemployment rate. Even with the help of affirmative action policies implemented by former U.S President Nixon, there are plenty of challenges for people of color when finding employment. Different reasons for unemployment disparities are difference in education quality, discrimination in workplace, and “first fired, last hired” hypothesis proving to be true. Policies need to be made in order to close wide racial unemployment gaps. Continuous disparities in unemployment are constant reminders on how excessively race influences America.