African-American jobseekers are more likely than the general population to use the Internet in their search, and are especially reliant on social media and mobile devices, according to a recent study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The study, “Broadband and Jobs: African Americans Rely Heavily on Mobile Access and Social Networking in Job Search” was funded by the Joyce Foundation and explored the importance of the Web when searching for employment. It was released Nov. 6.

For Blacks, the subject is of critical importance. As of September, Black unemployment remains at 13 percent, almost double that of other Americans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the Internet and digital technology can provide a means of breaking that trend, experts say.

“This study not only underscores the potential of broadband and mobile technologies in driving policy solutions in economically distressed communities, but it also shows the success that African Americans are having in making the most of digital platforms in finding work,” said Joint Center President and CEO Ralph B. Everett in a statement.

In “Broadband and Jobs,” the Joint Center found that not only are Blacks more likely to search and apply for jobs online, but they also tend to deem the Internet as being essential to a successful search. According to the survey results, 50 percent of African American respondents said the Internet was very important to them in successfully finding a job, compared to a 36 percent average for the entire sample.

Also, 35 percent of African Americans who were out of work within the past six years said they have used social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook to look for a job, compared to 25 percent for all respondents.

And, 47 percent of African Americans said they have used a smartphone for job hunting, compared to 36 percent of Latinos and 24 percent of Whites.

Another key finding was that those who felt most confident about their digital skills were more likely to use the Web. Advocates said this suggests that increased access to broadband and expanded digital literacy is necessary to mitigate high rates of unemployment—especially since many employers are now posting jobs online only.

“With so many employers insisting that job seekers apply for jobs online, online access is essential to finding work. Closing broadband adoption gaps becomes more urgent when society expects people to carry out tasks using the Internet,” said the study’s author, John B. Horrigan, senior research fellow at the Joint Center, in a statement. “At the same time, stakeholders must close gaps in digital skills among all online users so that the Internet can help people turn opportunities into positive outcomes.”

“Broadband and Jobs” was released at a Washington broadband technology forum. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn of the Federal Communications Commission offered remarks. 

Copies of the report are available at the Joint Center’s website,

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO