Even though everybody knows that the recession was over years ago, some people are still feeling its impact, especially those working for the much-demonized public sector, which is shedding jobs under the increasing pressure for fiscal austerity. However, there is one group that is hit particularly hard by the loss of public-sector employment: African Americans. The Times reports that one in five black workers are employed by the public sector, and they're also one-third more likely to hold such a job than whites.

"The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path forward," Robert Zieger, a professor emeritus at the University of Florida says, "But it is also a vulnerability." The Center for Labor Research and Education at UC Berkeley released a study [pdf] on black laborers in government and municipal positions that noted that any position advocating for large-scale layoffs in the public sector (we're looking at you, GOP presidential candidates) should "take into account the disproportionate impact the reductions in government employment have on the black community.”

Over the past year, the private sector has bolstered its ranks with 1.6 million jobs. The public sector has lost 142K, on top of the 200K lost last year and the 500K that were lost since 2007. And there's more to come, especially in the United States Postal Service, where one quarter of the employees are black.

Pamela Sparks, an employee of the USPS for 25 years, has a brother and a sister who work for the postal service, and her father is a retired station manager. “With our whole family working for the Post Office, it would be hard to help each other out because we’d all be out of work,” she says. “It has afforded us a lot of things we needed to survive really, but this is one of the drawbacks.”

Don Buckley, a Chicago bus driver who was recently laid off, said, "I was living the American dream—my version of the American dream. Then it crumbled. They get you used to having things and then they take them away, and you realize how lucky you were.”