Not all unemployment is created equal. For October, the national jobless rate was 4.9%, as the economy added 161,000 jobs. However, among Black Americans, the number was 8.6%, and among teenagers 15.9% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate at the depth of the recession hit 10.1% in October 2009. So, Black American are not much better off than that today, and teenagers worse.
The contrast between these two groups is particularly severe when compared to those much better off. White unemployment was 4.3% last month. Among Asians, the number was 3.4%.
The racial spread is not unusual. According to Pew:
In 1954, the earliest year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistent unemployment data by race, the white rate averaged 5% and the black rate averaged 9.9%
The black-white unemployment gap appears to have emerged in the 1940s, according to a 1999 analysis of Census data. Although labor economists, sociologists and other researchers have offered many explanations for the persistent 2-to-1 gap — from the differing industrial distribution of black and white workers to a “skills gap” between them — there’s no consensus on causes.
Brookings report on teen unemployment, authored by Andrew Sum, the head of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, points out, via Bloomberg;
…youth joblessness is planting the seeds for bigger problems in the years ahead. He says history shows that people who can’t get jobs when they’re teenagers are less likely to find work when they’re older. “You could say you had a bad year, you’ll be OK next year,” Sum says. “That’s not the way the world works.”
For either group, there is very little reason for optimism in the short term