As seen in the chart below, that's been making the rounds, the stimulus is working. The Obama Administration, using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is touting that the number of jobs lost is lessening.


This is great news, of course, but we must ensure that when it comes to new jobs, everyone has equal opportunity. That's why it's discouraging to hear that five Silicon Valley companies successfully fought a Freedom of Information request for gender and race information on their employees.

Apple, Applied Materials, Google, Oracle, and Yahoo succeeded in rebuking the request from the San Jose Mercury News with the argument that "commercial harm" would be done and business strategy would be revealed to competitors.

This is, of course, preposterous but it's a stark reminder that as we move forward towards economic recovery, we can't just be content with returning the unequal status quo of before the economic downturn.

Although the Mercury News was unable to get data from these specific companies, they did report on Department of Labor data for Silicon Valley overall.

The Labor Department data ultimately obtained by the Mercury News shows that while the collective work force of 10 of the valley's largest companies grew by 16 percent from 1999 to 2005, an already small population of black workers dropped by 16 percent, while the number of Hispanic workers declined by 11 percent. By 2005, only about 2,200 of the 30,000 Silicon Valley-based workers at those 10 companies were black or Hispanic.

In addition, among the roughly 5,900 managers at those companies in 2005, about 300 were either black or Hispanic—a 20 percent dip from five years earlier. Women slipped to 26 percent of managers in 2005, from 28 percent in 2000.

This problem is, of course, not limited to Silicon Valley. The Opportunity Agenda has done its own analysis of the numbers and found that while the overall unemployment rate increased from 7.4 percent in December 2008 to 10 percent in 2009, the increase in unemployment was significantly higher for African Americans and Latinos. African American unemployment increased from 12.1 percent to 16.2 percent, and Latino unemployment increased from 9.4 percent to 12.9 percent. (You can find more of our research here.)

Promoting greater and more equal opportunity must become an important and explicit consideration. Opportunity doesn't just happen, it requires bold leadership, innovative ideas, and public attention.

For more, visit The Opportunity Agenda website.



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