C. Economic rights and development~ poverty, unemployment and education.
Nationally, African Americans and Latinos are three times more likely to be poor than other racial group. Just 12.1 percent of the population is Black and yet 27% of the nations poor are African-American. The pattern is similar for Latinos who make up 11.5% of the national population and 23 percent of the poor.
The South leads in some of the most depressing statistics: lowest in income; highest in unemployment, infant mortality, hunger, poverty, food stamp recipients and births to women under 20." The 11 Southern states are home to 27 percent of the total national population, but 35% of the nations poor and 33 percent of the unemployed.
High levels of African-American unemployment (nearly twice the national average) are found in the majority of Southern counties. 16 Nationally, 14% of workers are unionized. For every Southern state the percentage of unionized workers is below the national average, faUing as low as 3% in North Carolina.17 The weakness of unions here is reflected in the high concentration of low wage jobs in this region.
In 1998, nearly 14 percent of the national population had dropped out of high school and did not earn a degree. Forty percent of this group lives in the South. In the South, education is strongly associated with unemployment and poverty. This educational disadvantage leads to occupational segregation, with people of color much more likely to work in lower-paying, semi-skilled or service jobs.8
Latinos are one of the most vulnerable communities of color in the South. Florida and Texas have the greatest Latino populations, but this group is rapidly increasing in other southern states due to job opportunities. Latinos face the same problems as other racial and ethnic groups, compounded by the language barrier and their often undocumented status. The precarious legal situation of many new immigrants makes them more vulnerable to exploitation by employers. According to union leaders, violation of labor laws is routine at southern worksites where Latinos are employed, leading to serious injury and even death.9