Joe Biden

ICYMI: Black Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low

April 07, 2023

Today, we learned that under President Biden, the unemployment rate for Black workers fell to a record low and the gap between Black and overall unemployment shrank to the smallest it's been on record.

As the Washington Post reported, "The Black unemployment rate sank to the lowest point on record in March, 5 percent, a testament to the economic recovery following the pandemic. The figure is even more surprising, considering that just three years ago, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Black unemployment rate had soared to 16.8 percent."

Under President Biden, the gap between the Black unemployment rate and the overall unemployment has now shrunk to a record low.

Even before today's news, Axios reported that, "The labor market is seeing more equitable employment outcomes across racial groups than it has in years." They add, "For the half-century data has been available, white workers have enjoyed higher rates of employment than Black workers…that gap has nearly shut…helped by huge employment gains for Black men."

The President's economic agenda has powered a historic economic recovery and is building an economy that benefits all workers. That's an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top-down.

See coverage below:

Washington Post: Black unemployment rate hits record low
[Lauren Kaori Gurley, 4/7/23]

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Black unemployment rate soared to 16.8 percent

The Black unemployment rate sank to the lowest point on record in March, 5 percent, a testament to the economic recovery following the pandemic.

The figure is even more surprising, considering that just three years ago, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Black unemployment rate had soared to 16.8 percent with some 3.5 million Black workers dropping out of the labor market or losing work.

A surge in labor market demand coming out of the pandemic has fueled one of the fastest jobs recoveries on record, sending the national unemployment rate to historic lows and benefiting millions of Black workers who had lost their jobs and quickly found new ones.

[…]

Economists say that the Black unemployment rate in the United States tends to be twice the White unemployment rate due to systemic racism and other broad structural forces, such as differences in access to education.

The unemployment rate is even lower than during the years when then President Trump often took credit for the Black unemployment rate hitting a record low during his term, according to data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics going back to 1972.

[…]

Axios: Job market milestone: Shrinking employment gap for Black workers
[Courtney Brown, 4/5/23]

The economy hit a quiet milestone in recent months: The labor market is seeing more equitable employment outcomes across racial groups than it has in years.
Where it stands: For the half-century data has been available, white workers have enjoyed higher rates of employment than Black workers. That gap still exists, but it has been shrinking notably.

Why it matters: Overall, America's labor market has continued to surprise, to the upside. One real-world effect is the lasting (favorable) job conditions for marginalized workers, including Black Americans, to reap benefits others get much sooner.

  1. "The tighter that the labor market gets, the more incentivized employers are to pull [in] workers they have overlooked in the past," says Daniel Zhao, an economist at career site Glassdoor.

By the numbers: In the sluggish recovery that followed the 2008 financial crisis, the white employment-population ratio, or the share of that population with a job, was more than 8 percentage points above the comparable measure for Blacks, according to the Labor Department.

  1. But as of February, that gap has nearly shut: it's 0.3 percentage points — the smallest differential on record, helped by huge employment gains for Black men.
  2. Among the workers most likely to want a job, those aged between 25 and 54, the difference between white and Black employment is 3.5 percentage points — hovering just above the smallest in data that dates back to 1994. (Accounting for seasonal adjustments, the gap is the smallest in more than 45 years.)

What they're saying: "Not every issue of inequity isn't resolved here — not every job is equal," says Skanda Amarnath, executive director at research firm Employ America. "But employment is an important part of people's welfare."

Between the lines: Stronger gains in Black employment are the notable side effect of a white-hot labor market. That was also true in 2019, when the Black unemployment rate hit an all-time low after the decade-long expansion.

  1. The unemployment rate among Black Americans was 2.1 percentage points higher than the overall rate in February, a narrower spread than any time on record (except for a four-month span in 2019, when it reached an all-time low of 1.6 percentage points).
  2. "On the one hand, Black workers, largely men, are enjoying a fairly robust labor market," says Michelle Holder, an economics professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. But on the other hand, wage gains in some cases are being pressured by inflation, Holder adds.

News One: Black Unemployment Rate Plunges To Lowest Ever On Record
Unemployment for Black women in March also reached a record low.
[Bruce Wright, 4/7/23]

The unemployment rate for African Americans in March fell to the lowest ever recorded in U.S. history.

According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Black unemployment rate is at 5%, plunging more than half of a percentage point from the rate recorded in February.

[…]

The unemployment rate for Black women last [month] is 4.2%, plunging from 5.1% in February, also a record low.

In addition, not only did Black teens see their unemployment rate fall nearly 6 percentage points, from 20.4% to 14.5%.

The jobs report also revealed that "the share of Black workers holding a job exceeds the share for white workers holding a job for the first time," William E. Spriggs, the chief economist for AFL-CIO and a professor of economics at Howard University, tweeted Friday morning.

[…]

Not for nothing, the 5% Black unemployment rate last month shatters that for which former President Donald Trump previously and readily took credit in 2019.

Back then, Trump boasted of an unemployment rate for African Americans that was nearly a full 2 percentage points more than the rate recorded in March.

"The best numbers that we've ever had: African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Women, everything. We have the best numbers that we've had in many, many, many decades," Trump told reporters in October 2019 about the unemployment rates for the month prior.

At that pre-pandemic point, Black unemployment sat at 6.6%.

[…]

Bloomberg: Gap Between US Black and White Unemployment Drops to Record Low
[Catarina Saraiva, 4/7/23]

The gap between the Black and White unemployment rate — a closely watched benchmark of inequality in the labor market — shrank to its narrowest level on record in March as African Americans saw outsize gains in employment.

The Black unemployment rate plunged to 5% last month, the lowest level in data going back to the early 1970s. It's still 1.8 percentage points above the rate for White Americans — which was unchanged at 3.2% in March — but that gap is the smallest ever.

[…]

The share of employed Black Americans rose to 60.9%, the highest since 2000. Both Black men and women saw gains, with the employment-to-population ratio for Black women older than 20 rising above pre-pandemic levels.

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: Black Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/360476

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