The Jobs Situation in Black and White

Sometimes, all the noise about the ongoing jobs crisis obscures some underlying facts — namely that the recession has hit black and Latino communities first and worst.

Don’t believe me? Check out the charts below.

Some highlights:

  • Since the recession began, the black unemployment rate has climbed 7.3 percentage points (9.0 percent in December 2007 to 16.3 percent today)
  • White unemployment has risen 4.5 percent and today sits below the pre-recession black unemployment rate (4.4 percent in December 2007 to 8.9 percent today)
  • Latino unemployment has nearly doubled during the recession (6.3 percent in Dec 2007 to 12.0 percent today)
  • While white and Latino unemployment has dropped or stabilized since May, black unemployment is actually on the rise (15.5 percent in May 2010 to 16.3 percent today)

(all data via Bureau of Labor Statistics)

16 Responses to “The Jobs Situation in Black and White”

  1. avatar

    Hi, Grace. We'd love to have included an AAPI breakdown. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have those numbers at easy access, making one-for-one comparisons like these graphs difficult.

    A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, however, found that Asian Americans have the lowest unemployment rate of any racial group — particularly among those with less than a high school diploma. Interestingly, Asian Americans with bachelor's or advanced degrees had higher unemployment rates than whites with similar educational backgrounds.

    Here's a link to the EPI study:

    Hope that helps!

    • avatar

      Thanks for that Dan! I've been researching this very topic for a few weeks. I have ot wonder at how the statistics are structured, they make it almost impossible to break out unemployment by educational level…I think when you put the race cards down we will find that this is more about education and access to education than about race…but it seems that doesn't sell newpapers or whip up the voter base near enough to be big news.

  2. avatar

    What I don't get is why the debate about "big government" never addresses the inequity that causes federal structural deficits, namely the big three entitlement programs, medicaid, medicare and social security. These programs are designed to help poor people programs. Poor people are disproportionately black and latino and therefore receive a disproptionate amount of these benefits or "expenditures." Let's start there and work toward closing the inequity gap, then maybe we can truly reduce the size of government.

  3. avatar

    Hi Grace, here is a more detail article from LA Times covering unemployment rates among Asian Americans.

  4. avatar

    You know I can't help but wonder…is the conversation really about race? Or is it about educational attainment? It is a fact that blacks and hispanics achieve bachelors and masters degrees at a lower rate than whites/orientals…Could we really be talking about education? Should we be talking about education? and not race? Race seems a convienient scape goat but is that really the problem…while non-whites with masters degrees often have slightly higher unemployment ratios the differences between educational levels is much greater…we can't change how we were born…but we don't have to let how we were born dictate what we become…I think race baiting is a dead end..why don't we, as a society, promote education as a way to greater economic growth (both on a national and an individual level)!

    • avatar

      I wholeheartedly agree! I see a lot of racism however a lot of it IS revovled around our lack of proper education, ettiquette, drees and vocabulary we use. It is time for us to stop thinking so negative about school and step it up

  5. avatar

    ..and education…poverty, employment, and education are linked, I think the racial factors may have less to do with bias (which gets all the attention) and more to do with the different races behavior around education …there are deeply ingrained cultural differences concerning attitudes toward education. When we address these differences we may approach a solution (IMO)

  6. avatar

    The fact that so many blacks, especially youth, treat academic achievement as a "white thing" is a real tragedy. Too often black kids who study hard and get good grades are called "Oreos." I'm here to tell you that good jobs are awaiting you if you work hard on your education. In fact many companies actively recruit African Americans to show their commitment to diversity (mine included). Black women and men with college degrees (or even better a masters degree) are aggressively sought after by corporate America. Word needs to spread in the black community: it isn't true that a wall of racism will prevent you from getting a good job, no matter what you do. The reverse is true: black boys and girls who study hard and earn degrees can almost guarantee themselves good jobs. From my position as a corporate manager, I see the same thing all the time: well-educated blacks are literally fought over by companies, in part because their numbers are low compared to whites so there is scarcity. The opportunities awaiting a black kid who ignores the taunts of his peers and studies hard are tremendous. Don't let anyone discourage you from sticking with (or going back to) your education.

  7. avatar

    Did you know that unemployment on Indian reservations is over 80%? In some black communities the black male unemployment rate is over 50%. Did you know that they don't count prisoners in their unemployment statistics? This is structural. Capitalism maintains a surplus labor force so that they can drive down the cost of labor. And, capital follows cheap labor. American labor cannot compete with foreign labor because it has priced itself out of the market. How much education do you need in a service economy? GED? I think Americans might have to go back to farming.

  8. avatar

    I can tell you this, as a Corporate VP whose African American within a Fortune 500 company that consults other Fortune 500 firms; they are not many blacks. Especially black males. Done countless interviews and surveys and this is a systemic problem. Its not because we do not have our share of applicants; we pull from the same University pools, executive search firms on all candidates. It comes down to that last interview, when things are all equal, it appears most likely than not, the white or other candidate is chosen. It also reflects in upper management. You know how many corporate C Level, Fortune 500 African Americans there are? Less than 3. Moreover many mid-level management blacks are not promoted very often, particularly in if they are in high profile business units like Technology, Finance, and Corporate Governance. That's the reality.

  9. avatar

    Could it be because there are more white people in America than blacks? you can't have equal number of things when whites outnumber the blacks by a large margin. We have a black president that was elected by white america. It just seems the race card is getting so old and tiresome argument. There are 11 black CEOs of fortune 500 companies for 2011.

  10. avatar

    Education helps a person to realize its potential which allows a person to do more well in his life as he can’t do that before in a perfect way. A person knows more about his capabilities and potentials to tackle the world.

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