As unemployment in the labor pool rose, so did the requirements for education and experience from employers. What was portrayed by Chamber of Commerce and economists as a ‘skills gap’ was the consequence of high unemployment, not the cause.
Linnea Lassiter at DCFPI wrote a paper on the growing unemployment rates for Black D.C. residents, and the Washington City Paper has done a recap. One hypothesis is that the culprit is a booming D.C. economy that has drawn an influx of jobs and labor that typically go to white, college-educated applicants, combined with the gentrification of the City that pushes out businesses and jobs that are black-owned or staffed by minorities:
Lassiter’s research also indicates that educational attainment in itself doesn’t explain employment outcomes. Even among the city’s black residents who have bachelor’s degrees, the joblessness rate was three times higher than that of their white peers: 5.7 percent versus 1.9 percent. Moreover, D.C.’s black college graduates were more likely to be unemployed in 2016 than before the recession.