While a degree certainly provides graduates with an edge in the job market, unemployment statistics have repeatedly shown that one’s race plays a role in securing employment.
As of March 2012, African American graduates encountered a rate of 10.8 percent, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. White graduates appeared to stand a greater chance at employment with an 8.7 percent rate.
The disparity found in the data points to larger issues of race, education, and social mobility in the United States. With last month’s black unemployment rate at 14.1 percent, almost double the national rate of 8.3 percent, and a continued bleak job market on the horizon, African American graduates might find solace looking towards themselves for employment.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that black self-employment has been on the rise, wrote Small Business Trend. The number of self-employed blacks grew by 5.7 percent from 2007 through 2009, in contrast to the 3.4 decrease experienced by self-employed whites.
Coupled with this entrepreneurial upsurge is the founding of start-up incubators aimed at training and mentoring aspiring minorities.
As a single mother and fellow minority eager to tap into the lucrative community, Angela Benton launched the accelerator in 2011 to provide the promising participants with first hand experience in the tech industry.
“A lot of them can’t go to their parents or immediate network and say, ‘Hey, I want to start this app or this website, how do I get started?’” she said in an interview.
The New York-based 100 Urban Entrepreneurs promotes a similar mission to Benton’s incubator, albeit with a more quantitative goal: to identify, finance and mentor 100 urban entrepreneurs from economically disadvantaged communities within 12 months.
Big name, self-starter celebrities such as Tyler Perry and P. Diddy donated to the foundation, which has already selected dozens of $10,000 grantees. Twenty four-year-old UC Berkeley graduate Charlie Fyffe of Charlie’s Brownies was one of the program’s first recipients.
“I started my business initially on Facebook, marketing through a fan page for four years before getting a real Web site,” Fyffe said in an interview. “As social media has become a societal norm, the popularity of my brand naturally grew with it.”
Like Fyffe, many recent graduates use social media and maintain a consistent web presence, and could also stand to benefit from skills they have picked up along the way.
At a time when creating and offering highly lucrative services and products can be done with little more than a computer, black graduates can not only focus on getting jobs, but creating them as well.
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Located in the Great Lakes region of the Midwest, Michigan kicks off the list at number one with a total of twelve business on this year's <em>Black Enterprise</em> <a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/lists/be-100s-2012/" target="_hplink">Top 100 List</a>. Known primarily as an automotive industry, the Wolverine state is home to top-notch Black-owned businesses that cater to cars, such as the automotive parts suppliers Bridgewater Interiors and TAG Holdings. Other industries represented in Michigan's top earning Black businesses include construction management, facility maintenance and operations, metal processing and staffing services. The wealth is also spread throughout the state, with a heavy concentration in Detroit.
Fondly nicknamed "Old Dominion," Virginia came in at an impressive second place (tied with Ohio) for most businesses ranked on the <em>BE</em> Top 100 list. Out of the eleven businesses featured on the list, seven are based in the information technology and computer industries. The food industry also claims several spots on the list, including Herndon, Virginia's Thompson Hospitality at number 8 with its revenue of 405.000 million.
While Ohio's professional sports team have placed the state in the national spotlight, the Buckeye state also holds its own when it comes to fostering successful Black-owned businesses. Eleven Ohio businesses were ranked on the <em>BE</em> Top 100 list this year, which ties the state with Virginia. Unlike its counterpart, the industries represented on the list span a wide array. Modular Assembly Innovations, an auto parts manufacturing and assembly company located in Dublin, tops the list at number four. At the same time, food and paper product distribution, petroleum products distribution, construction management and transportation services are a few of the other industries that made the cut.
One of the states representing the south is Georgia, a place that's been popping up on television screens more and more these days. The Peach state is the headquarter to nine of the businesses on the 2012 <em>BE</em> Top 100 List. Success is nothing new to Georgia, which is home to dozens of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies. Coming in at 90, up three spots from 2011, is Taco Bell and Five Guys Burgers' CEO Micheal E. Melton. Several other Black business owners like Clarence W. Roble, CEO of B & S Electric Supply Co. and Daniel J. Halpern, CEO of Jackmont Hospitality, also rank highly on this year's list, bolstering Georgia's formidable economy.
The Lone Star state is known for going big, and Black-owned businesses are no exceptions. Texas racked up a total of seven business on this year's <em>BE</em> Top 100 list. As of last year, Texas had the second-highest gross state product--$1.207 trillion--in the country. Steel producer Millennium Steel of Texas; office furniture and facility services Facility Interior; and the McDonalds franchise all call Texas home, as do other equally-successful companies headed by pioneering Black CEOs.
It only makes sense that Pennsylvania, home to the city of brotherly love, rounds out the top states featured on the 2012 <em>BE</em> Top 100 List. It's also one of the few East Coast states with several Black-owned businesses on this year's list. Four businesses based in Pennsylvania appear on the list, boasting a variety of profitable trades such as business services to banking, office furniture manufacturing, construction management and Support services to government and commercial markets. Heavyweights Philadelphia and Pittsburgh represented for the state of independence, but so did Norristown, based right outside of the city.