The jobless figures for June were better than expected. They certainly do not signal the start of a recession. The economy added 372,000 jobs, and unemployment was 3.6% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JUNE 2022. Authors of the report summed up the numbers: “The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the fourth month in a row, and the number of unemployed persons was essentially unchanged at 5.9 million in June.”
The unemployment rate varied substantially by race. In June, the rate among adult men was 3.3%. Among adult women, the figure was the same. Among whites it was also 3.3%. Among Hispanic, the figure was 4.1%. The rate among Black Americans was 5.8%. This is 75% higher than the figure for whites.
The reasons Black Americans have higher jobless rates than whites fall into several categories. The Economic Policy Institute reports that among the primary reasons are “racism” and single adult households where one person tries to care for children and hold a full-time job at the same time.
The American Progressive reports that the spread between Black and white jobless rates goes back to 1972 when the BLS started to gather monthly employment data. It gives incarceration, the rate of which is higher among Blacks than whites as another reason. “Mass incarceration plays a significant role in the lower labor force participation rate for African American men.” Educational attainment is another reason. Whites tend to graduate both high school and college at a higher rate than Blacks.
None of these reasons can be taken alone, according to many experts. They represent a web of problems Black Americans face as they try to enter the workforce. One thing almost all experts agree on is that they will not go away.
A study done by 24/7 Wall St. last year shows the deep problems can be further explained at the city level. Among the Worst Cities for Black Americans: “Black residents in these metro areas are much less likely to hold a high school diploma or college degree than white residents. Lower levels of high school attainment can drive down wages and make it more difficult to find a job.”
Based on all these factors, the gulf between Black unemployment and white is unlikely to change.
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