Black Unemployment at 10.4%

In February, the unemployment rate among black or African American persons was 10.4%, nearly double the national rate of 5.5%. The unemployment rate among blacks or African Americans between ages 16 and 19 was 30%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics did not give a reason for these levels.

Although there are no definitive reasons behind the high unemployment rates, experts offer several. According to a recent study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research commenting on black men:

The educational attainment of black men still trails significantly behind their white male counterparts. The high school graduation rate for black men, currently at 73 percent, is still 10 percent behind that of white men. Black men are also half as likely as white men to obtain a college degree by age 24. These educational discrepancies have lasting effects for young black men, especially as barriers to obtaining higher-wage jobs.


According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. That is an astonishingly high rate that is nowhere near comparable to that of white men. For men ages 18-19, the imprisonment rate of black men is nine times higher than white men; for ages 20-24, the rate is seven times higher for blacks.

The theory behind the effects of prison is that people who has been imprisoned are unlikely to find employers who will accept them as workers.

Aljazeera America reported on a recent analysis:

The New York Times Upshot blog found that in 2012, 40 percent of white Americans thought blacks didn’t work as hard as whites. Another 45 percent said that blacks lacked willpower and motivation to get out of poverty.

So, a very wide set of research and comments explaining the black unemployment problem, but none have helped bridge the divide between the unemployment rates among blacks and most other Americans.

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