18 Apr 2021

Elevate and Overcome

In part 1 of this two-part article, we look at the reality of job hunting for Black, college graduates during the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus has forced us to press the pause button on many aspects of our lives right now. In the moments that should be some of the happiest for college graduates, there is doubt, fear, and anxiety. The fact of the matter is that a lot of employers are not hiring right now due to COVID-19. The scarcity of employment opportunities is leaving many Black, college graduates across North America without many job opportunities. We hope to dive deeper into this phenomenon. First, we will look at trends in Black employment and analyze how the pandemic has affected them. We also want to provide tips for Black college graduates to bolster their resume during the pandemic.


Statistics for the USA and Canada show that Black people face higher rates of unemployment compared to people of other races.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, the percentage of African-Americans who were unemployed in March of 2020 is 6.7%, which jumped 0.9% from February 2020. African-Americans only make 13.4% of the American population. Despite this, statistics show that face the largest rates of unemployment in comparison to other racial groups. Black Canadians experience similar trends north of the border. The most recent Canadian census indicates that Black people make up approximately 3% of all visible minorities in the workforce. Despite these low numbers, they face an unemployment rate of 12.5%

Black people in the Western world have always struggled to find employment. History shows that due to stereotypes about Black people, employers have commonly been hesitant to employ them. The reasons for low employment rates amongst Black populations are complex; however, experts suggest that the reasons entangle with ideologies of anti-Blackness, socioeconomic discrimination, and xenophobia.

Source: Forbes

The feat of getting a job after graduation for many Black students is a difficult one.

The challenge is present for most college graduates, regardless of race; however, there are additional roadblocks that are present for Black students. A 2014 study conducted by the New York Times revealed that discrimination does affect rates of Black college graduate unemployment. The study also says that Black students who struggle to find employment early in their careers suffer for it later on.

The statistics show that in 2014, 56% of Black college graduates faced underemployment. This means that they were working jobs that either doesn’t require a degree or that they were overqualified for. Underemployment is a popular trend. Many students are scrambling to find employment to begin paying student loan debt and other bills. This lack of economic resources also serves as one explanation for the patterns of economic instability that we often see among Black populations.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs.

As of April 4th, 2020, the unemployment rate in Canada fell to 58.5%, which is the lowest it has been since 1997. Unemployment rates have also drastically increased in the United States due to lockdowns that have been occurring across the country. Both in the United States and Canada, federal governments have been issuing grants to certain eligible citizens and students. These grants, otherwise known as the CERB in Canada and stimulus cheques in the States, are given to people with a low monthly income or those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown.


These payments are somewhat aiding the financial difficulties that many are experiencing; however, they do not address larger economic concerns for those who are experiencing extensive financial issues due to the coronavirus. Studies have shown that the job cuts taking place in the United States and Canada are disproportionally affecting Black people. Other groups who are afflicted by job cuts are women, other racialized groups, people with low education, and youth. Recent Black college graduates meet 2-3 of these demographic groups. From this, we can cautiously assume that they are more likely to endure economic challenges due to the pandemic.

Financial experts are suggesting that students graduating in the class of 2020, may be “graduating into a recession“.

Source: The Undefeated (Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Due to the policies put in place to protect workers during the coronavirus, many businesses in the States and Canada have closed. As a result, the economy has taken a steep decline. This is leading financial experts to believe that we are heading towards a recession.


History shows us that young people are heavily impacted during a recession. Typically, the financial aids put into place during recessions (like Trump’s 2-trillion dollar stimulus investment) are geared towards people who are already working, not people transitioning into the job market. It is expected that all college students, regardless of race, are expected to face difficulty finding financial stability during and after the pandemic.

During the Great Recession, Black college graduates were less likely to find a job in comparison to their white colleges. This is a pattern that is likely to repeat itself during the anticipated post-coronavirus recession. Despite countering claims, we are not living in a post-racial world. We can look at the care that Black people are receiving for the coronavirus as an example. Low-income, predominately Black communities are crying out for better care during this pandemic, yet they are not receiving it. The coronavirus is opening our eyes to deeper racial inequality. Overall, it is expected that recent Black graduates are going to have a harder time merging into the workforce once the coronavirus ends.


Black students have to work twice as hard to obtain the bare minimum.

As a former Black university student, I understand the struggle of hunting for jobs. I have had the experience of building my resume and portfolio for years to compete with others who don’t have to work as hard to reach their goals. We expect that job opportunities will be scarce once the pandemic ends and know that there are few job opportunities available now.

Tomorrow, in part two of this article, we will be releasing tips that recent Black college graduates might find useful in bolstering their resume during the quarantine.

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