Economic Perspectives with Hopeton Hay on KAZI 88.7 FM in Austin, TX

African American Unemployment Continues to Rise

Posted by Hopeton on November 7, 2009

Despite news of an improving economic picture for the nation, national unemployment continued at historic highs coming in at 15.7 percent for African Americans, 13.1 percent for Hispanics, and overall unemployment of 10.2 percent for the month of October according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly update on employment.

The 15.7 unemployment rate for African Americans was the highest since August 1984 when it reached 16 percent.  The overall unemployment rate of 10.2 percent was the highest since April 1983 when it also was 10.2 percent.

African American male unemployment was 17.1 percent and African American female unemployment was 12.4 percent in October.

Industry Employment

Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 190,000 in October. In the most recent 3 months, job losses have averaged 188,000 per month, compared with losses averaging 357,000 during the prior 3 months. In contrast, losses averaged 645,000 per month from November 2008 to April 2009. Since December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 7.3 million.

Health care employment continued to increase in October (29,000). Since the start of the recession, health care has added 597,000 jobs.

Construction employment decreased by 62,000 in October. Monthly job losses have averaged 67,000 during the most recent 6 months, compared with an average decline of 117,000 during the prior 6 months. October job losses were concentrated in nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-30,000) and in heavy construction (-14,000). Since December 2007, employment in construction has fallen by 1.6 million.

Manufacturing continued to shed jobs (-61,000) in October, with losses in both durable and nondurable goods production. Over the past 4 months, job losses in manufacturing have averaged 51,000 per month, compared with an average monthly loss of 161,000 from October 2008 through June 2009. Manufacturing employment has fallen by 2.1 million since December 2007.

Retail trade lost 40,000 jobs in October. Employment declines were concentrated in sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-16,000) and in department stores (-11,000). Employment in transportation and warehousing decreased by 18,000 in October.

Temporary help services has added 44,000 jobs since July, including 34,000 in October. From January 2008 through July 2009, temporary help services had lost an average of 44,000 jobs per month.

The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.0 hours in October. The manufacturing workweek rose by 0.1 hour to 40.0 hours, and factory overtime increased by 0.2 hour over the month.

In October, average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $18.72. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.4 percent, while average weekly earnings have risen by only 0.9 percent due to declines in the average workweek.

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