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Business has been on the rise in Wisconsin, with research showing that it’s the 10th best state for business in the whole U.S.

However, one of the biggest problems in the state is that there aren’t many opportunities for people of color. A report entitled “State of Black America” by the National Urban League found that the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis regions experience the largest black-white unemployment gap out of 73 metropolitan areas in the country. Black unemployment is at 13.8 percent, while white unemployment is at a mere 2.7 percent.

In Racine, the black unemployment rate was 16 percent, twice the rate of the white unemployment rate, according to the United Way of Racine County. Racine was also named as one of the worst places for black people to live in the United States, according to a story by USA Today.

What Has Caused The Problem?
Laura Dresser, author of a report about racial disparity in Wisconsin’s workforce says that the disappearance of factory jobs back in the 80s caused many African-American workers to lose their jobs and remain unemployed. When combined with the lack of access to jobs, this has led to an increase in the state’s unemployment rates. The problem is also heavily linked to the education crisis. White students in Wisconsin have greater-than-average rates of graduation (93 percent), but the rate for black students is only 64 percent.

So, what can be done? The two most important ways to improve black employment is supporting current business and creating opportunities for the youth.  

Increase Jobs
Investor and entrepreneur Jason Sugarman emphasized the importance of investing in local business. By supporting black-owned businesses in Wisconsin, as well as other parts of the country, this will encourage a greater amount of jobs to be created for people. There are other benefits: supporting black-owned companies to succeed will ensure the community in which they operate to thrive.

Give Opportunities To The Youth
It’s of equal importance to offer community-based projects and facilities for students. Research has found that although black youth make up 10 percent of the youth population in Milwaukee, they make up 92 percent of the people who are incarcerated. Community-based projects for kids to get involved in can, therefore, be an important step in encouraging them to steer away from crime. When they do this, they improve their chances of getting a job and lifting themselves out of poverty.

In Racine, Mayor Cory Mason is looking to expand the GED and apprenticeship programs.

While business is booming in Wisconsin, many members of the black population are still finding themselves poor and out of work. This can be changed by encouraging and supporting black business, and improving education so that more black people can enter the economy. It might take a bit longer to achieve these goals, but it will ensure a more prosperous future for everyone who lives in the state.  

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