Home » News: Amid record-setting declines, Black US unemployment hits record low

News: Amid record-setting declines, Black US unemployment hits record low

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Black Unemployment

Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the Black unemployment rate dipped below the 5% mark for the first time in U.S. history, marking uncharted territory for the nation’s labor force.

According to Moguldom, this wasn’t due to more Black people landing jobs, but the decline was driven by trends indicating that Black workers are faced with more challenges in what has been called a resilient U.S. labor market. In April, nonfarm payrolls went up by 253,000, and the overall unemployment rate went down to a multi-decade low of 3.4 percent, Bloomberg reported.

What was a major worry was that the report showed that Black men were departing the labor force at the fastest pace in three years. But the percentage of employed Black men aged 20 or older fell to 64.7 percent from 66 percent in March. Meanwhile, Black women, who have had a slower recovery, had substantial gains. The share of Black women who were employed increased to 61.1 percent in April from 60.9 percent in March.

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There was a marked decrease in the share of Black people who were either working or looking for jobs. Overall, the labor force participation rate for Black workers declined by more than one percentage point to 63 percent in April from 64.1 percent in March. Black workers’ decline was driven by a major decrease in the participation rate for Black men, who dropped out of the labor force in April at the fastest rate in three years. The participation rate for white workers saw a slight increase to 62.3 percent from 62.1 percent in March.

“Unemployment rates remain low across the board and historically low for Black workers,” Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity, and the economy, told CNBC. Wilson added, “It’s kind of a weird mixed message. But again, looking at the longer-term trend, it’s still fairly stable and steady with what we’ve seen in the last several months.”

The white unemployment rate was at 3.1 percent, pointing to a narrowing of 1.6 percentage points in the gap between Black and white workers. This is the smallest gap since the government began tracking the data in the 1970s. There was job growth in certain sectors, such as health care, professional and business services, as well as leisure and hospitality.

Although the drop in the Black unemployment rate is “quite remarkable,” the gains could be quickly reversed in a recession, Michelle Holder, associate professor of economics at John Jay College, City University of New York, told Bloomberg. “If there is still a possibility of a recession, then the current state of affairs with Black unemployment at its lowest level could easily be erased,” she said.

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