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

African American Unemployment Reaches Highest Rate in 25 Years

Posted by Hopeton on January 10, 2010

African American unemployment increased to 16.2 percent in December 2009, its highest rate since July of 1984 according to the monthly Employment Situation report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The number of African American unemployed increased by 86,000 from November to 2,843,000.  Since the recession began in December of 2007, the number of unemployed African Americans has grown nearly 1.1 million.

The data reveals the growth in unemployment among African Americans was driven by an  increase in unemployed for African American females.  An examination of the unemployment figures by gender reveals that unemployment for African Americans males decreased to 18.2 percent in December from 18.7 percent in November.  Despite the decline, the November and December unemployment rates for African American males are the highest since September of 1983 when it hit 19.5 percent.  African American female unemployment increased to 14.3 percent in December, a significant increase of the November unemployment rate of 12.8 percent.

Even with the rapid in African American female unemployment in 2009, the recession continues to disproportionately impact African American male unemployment.  At the beginning of the recession in December of 2007, African American female unemployment was 8.1 percent while African American male unemployment was 9.9 percent, only 1.8 percentage points higher.  As of December 2009, African American male unemployment is 3.9 percentage points higher than African American female unemployment.

Report Analyzes 2008 Unemployment by Race and Ethnicity

A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2008,  acknowledges the labor market problems of African Americans and Hispanics were especially acute in 2008. In the overview of the report it is written:

“The labor market difficulties of blacks and Hispanics are associated with many factors, not all of which are measurable. Some of these factors are their lower average levels of schooling; their tendency to be employed in occupations with high levels of unemployment; their greater concentration in the central cities of urban areas, where job opportunities may be relatively limited; and the likelihood that they experience discrimination in the workplace. These and other factors may make it especially difficult for some black and Hispanic workers to find or keep jobs as the overall demand for labor contracts during economic downturns.”


One Response to “African American Unemployment Reaches Highest Rate in 25 Years”

  1. Black Business creation is the best way to fight Black unemployment. We all must make a conscious effort to create and support Black owned businesses.

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