The present study explored factors associated with barriers to current employment among 199 low-income, primarily Black American men seeking job services.
The study took place in an urban setting located within the upper Midwest region of the U.S., where the problem of Black male joblessness is both longstanding and widespread. Recent research suggests that Black male joblessness regionally and nationally is attributable to myriad macro- and micro-level forces. While structural-level factors such as migration of available jobs, incarceration patterns, and racism have been relatively well-studied, less is known about individual-level predictors of Black male joblessness, which are inextricably linked to macro-level or structural barriers. This study therefore examined relations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), health-related factors, and employment-related problems.
Participants faced both specific and cumulative childhood adversities at much higher rates than men from more economically advantaged contexts. In addition, the physical, behavioral, and mental health of the study participants were, according to self-report survey results, notably worse than that of the general population or alternative samples.
Finally, results indicated that exposure to ACEs may have helped to undermine the men’s ability to attain current employment and that drug problems along with depression symptoms helped explain the link between ACEs and employment barriers. Theoretical and practical implications of results are explored.