Listen: As Employment Rises, African American Transplants Ride Jobs Wave To The South
"Support for this NPR podcast. And the following message come from the UPS store, offering services from shredding to printing to mailbox seeing, and instead of closing this Memorial Day weekend may twenty fourth and twenty fifth. The UPS store is doing another thing altogether. Opening the UPS store every anger for small business, and of course shipping. The jobless rate in the United States is at a near fifty year low. So all this month NPR's looking at what that means for workers, and communities, many African Americans are seeing an opportunity for better jobs and cheap housing in the south and Charlotte, North Carolina is one of their destinations NPR's Danielle Czeslaw reports, Britney Smith shows me around the house. She and her husband bought on the outskirts of Charlotte. Here. Washer dryer your standard. It's beige house with brick facade. There's a front porch and a two car garage and a green front lawn. She holds her fifteen month old daughter, Erla Smith grew up, mostly in Detroit, six years ago. She struggled to find a fulltime job in healthcare. They're her then boyfriend Sam was a career counselor at a college campus, that was closing. We're looking at what cities are growing for young professionals in Charlotte was always in the top five, it helped that Smith's father had moved back to North Carolina about two hours away from Charlotte. So they made the move. We did have the idea. If you know, we may go down here for a year. We don't like it, then we can always go home, this Smith's are part of an influx of African Americans to Mecklenburg county North Carolina. The African American population here has ballooned by sixty four percent since two thousand some people come from neighboring counties in north and South Carolina. But thousands are coming from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey in Illinois, and other cities in the south are seeing similar growth, including Houston, Atlanta Tallahassee and Columbia South Carolina Smith. Thirty two is about to begin a new job at a health insurance company doing community outreach. He starts Monday actually so very quick turnaround. But yet starts Monday her previous job was similar it was a dream job. She says, but the new position pays better and has more responsibility. Sam now her husband found work in Charlotte to as a university career, counselor opportunities for black folks, the south, and that have never been in the same sentence. Demographer Jessica baron endure North Carolina says throughout much of the twentieth century millions of African Americans left the south to escape racial discrimination, and lack of opportunity that Hobie got the Harlem renaissance and Chicago blues. These are all a part of the story of the great. Gration as manufacturing dried up in the rust belt services tech and finance expanded in southern cities, African Americans started coming back, Barron says migrants tend to have higher education and more connections than African Americans who remained in places like North Carolina for generations. The job market for African Americans over the past two years is the best ever unemployment is at six point seven percent. Although it's double the rate for whites Charlotte, in particular, is booming the city has seen eight straight years of job growth, but as the tide has risen here, it has not lifted all boats equally. Charlotte historian Tom Hinchey, it says decades of segregation and redlining have given African Americans in Charlotte, fewer opportunities to buy homes and build wealth. Affordable housing is especially an issue for African Americans. It requires special effort to overcome it because special effort created and in Charlotte. Many. African Americans work in industries, like hospitality and retail where wages have stagnated that mirrors the national trend where wages have grown more slowly for African Americans than any other group. I meet, Nicole muse. Dennis at one of two jobs. She works as bar manager at night and a special education teacher during the day. I'm what I call over employed. I have two jobs and I'm still trying to make us. Dennis says raising two daughters as a single mom on a teacher salary, has forced her into a sixty five hour workweek a couple days later. I join her morning routine flushing, it's still dark as she gets ready to drive her daughter to school hard, part is just make sure I get up actually I get up in the morning. That's the hard part. Sure, I can actually drive there. Mus- Dennis owned her townhouse in a middle class neighborhood called university city and the value of her home has increased in recent years, but our Texas have gone up, too. As mused Dennis strains to make a living. Brittany smith. The Detroit transplant is not as overextended she and her husband, both work jobs. They love and they have just one child, she feeds her daughter era, a pouch of organic, sweet potatoes here. I am a transplant that come has come down here enough taken advantage of all these opportunities. Now, some of it may be too. I have an education insane from a husband, but also it made me actually my husband and I had to look at ways that we can help bridge, the gap the structural issues that keep many African Americans unemployed or underpaid are difficult to fix but a strong economy opens more paths to success. And that's the experience of the Smith, family and millions of other African Americans who are starting new lives in the south Daniela, Chaz low NPR news Charlotte."