Unemployed African-American Men in Rural Areas Lack Needed Connections

Faculty; Public Health

Unemployed black men in rural Missouri lack the social and community connections that could help them find work, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice.

The community-based participatory research project in southeastern Missouri sought to identify characteristics of job-seeking networks through in-depth interviews. While unemployed African-American participants had many connections, they lacked those connections to people and organizations that would be likely to help in their job searches.

“Increasing employment opportunities in this community, and similar communities, will require effort from job-seekers and others to develop new relationships, programs and policies,” wrote Dr. Jenine K. Harris, Assistant Professor at the Brown School and the lead author of the paper.

This paper was one part of a larger project (Men on the Move) led by Dr. Elizabeth Baker of Saint Louis University. Dr. Baker received funding from the National Institutes of Health National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to improve health among African-American men in the Missouri Bootheel. In earlier phases of Men on the Move, Dr. Baker and her colleagues found that employment was a significant determinant of health and well-being.

The paper was published in the December issue of Connections, the journal of the International Network for Social Network Analysis.

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