The Mincy Report (2009)

Executive Summary

Bermudians are rightly concerned about the over-representation of young Black
Bermudian men among those who have been incarcerated in Bermuda, especially because of
drug trafficking and violent crime. Some are concerned that these young men are driven to these
activities because they are “On the Wall,” or idle. Labor economists describe a unique set of
relationships among the various labor-market outcomes Bermudians may have in mind when
they use this phrase. These outcomes include employment, unemployment, and labor force
participation. This study uses micro-data from the 2000 Census of Population and Housing in
Bermuda to measure these outcomes and put the concern about Black Bermudians males who
may be “On the Wall” under close scrutiny. It also examines differences in employment at low
earnings (underemployment), since this may also reflect what Bermudians mean when they say
that young Black Bermudian men are “On the Wall.”

Our examination shows that young Black Bermudian men have nearly the same
employment-population ratios and pure non-labor force participation rates, the best proxy for
being idle, as young White Bermudian men and Black Bermudian women. However, the
unemployment rate of young Bermudian Black men was 14 percent,; while the unemployment
rate of young White Bermudian men was 8 percent. Moreover, young Black Bermudian men
have much lower full-time enrollment-population ratios than their same age peers. While full
time students are not in the labor force, they are certainly not idle. Further we show that much of
the excess unemployment among Black Bermudian men is related to deficit in enrollment population
ratios when compared with their same age peers. Black Bermudian males are also
more likely to be employed at low earnings (underemployment) than their same age peers.
Moreover, racial differences in underemployment are too small to account for disproportionate
rate at which Black Bermudian men are arrested for criminal activities. Employment with low
earnings is reason for concern, but it could hardly be described as “idleness.”

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