Monday, December 17, 2012
The African American jobless rate is about twice that of whites, a disparity that has barely budged since the government began tracking the data in 1972
In the most recent jobs report, the black unemployment rate was 13.2%, while the white rate stood at 6.8%. Even Hispanics — more than a third of whom are foreign born — have lower jobless rates than African Americans despite, on average, having fewer educational credentials. African Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree had a 7.1% jobless rate in 2011, while the white rate was 3.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, black workers with only a high school education had a jobless rate of 15.5%, while similarly educated white workers had an unemployment rate of 8.4%. Black workers in computer and mathematical occupations — which job-training officials say are hard to fill — had an 8.1% jobless rate in 2011, while for whites the rate was 4.1%. Among construction workers, who were hard hit by the recession, the black jobless rate was 30.4%, compared with 15.3% for whites. Black workers were hit harder than whites during the recession, in part because workers with less education were more likely to lose work during the downturn. They also have been slower to recover. One in five African Americans is employed by government — as opposed to one in seven whites — a sector that has cut jobs even as other parts of the economy have inched toward recovery. Blacks are also under-represented in industries that have shown some strength during the recovery, including manufacturing and professional and business services, according to the Labor Department. The result has been predictable: Black workers are not only more likely to be unemployed than whites, but they are also more likely to remain jobless for longer periods, wreaking havoc on their financial lives.