From this week's Chemical and Engineering News, the final comment on Paying It Forward. This week's Comment is from the chair of the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs, Allison Aldridge:
Every day, we read about the dismal employment outlook. Right now, the national unemployment rate is hovering above 9% in the U.S. Chemical workers have generally fared better, with unemployment at 3.8%. As ACS Director-at-Large Valerie J. Kuck explained in last week’s Comment, however, aggregate national employment statistics don’t provide the whole picture (C&EN, Aug. 29, page 41). Kuck focused on key regional differences, noting that employment opportunities for chemists were particularly tight in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific Regions.
As the chair of the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs, I’d like to draw your attention to employment disparities among minorities. As measured by the 2010 ACS ChemCensus survey, nationwide unemployment among chemical workers is 6.3% for African Americans, 4.6% for Hispanics, and 4.3% for Asians. On the other hand, the national unemployment rate for whites in chemistry is 3.7%.
Not only are minorities having a more difficult time finding employment, but these employment disparities may also send a signal to young minorities that a career in chemistry may not be the best choice for them. We can speculate about the underlying reasons for the disparities in employment among ethnic and racial groups in chemistry; however, there is no doubt that we need to take action to correct these disparities.Once again, I'm surprised that like Valerie Kuck last week, Dr. Aldridge chooses to see the ACS member unemployment rate in a relative sense (compared to the national unemployment rate), rather than an absolute one (the 2nd highest in 20 years). Nevertheless, here's hoping something good comes out of ACS' efforts towards Paying It Forward.