Black Unemployment at 9.6%

Douglas A. McIntyre

While the 2015 average national unemployment rate sat at 5.3%, the rate among African Americans was 9.6%, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The rate varies considerable by state. According to the BLS:

The lowest unemployment rates for African Americans were in Hawaii (4.1 percent), Alaska (4.6 percent), Nebraska (5.3 percent), and Colorado (5.9 percent). The highest unemployment rates for African Americans were in Iowa (14.8 percent), Minnesota (14.1 percent), and Nevada (13.5 percent).


The gap between the overall U.S. unemployment rate and the rate for African Americans in 2015 was 4.3 percentage points. Within states, the gaps were largest in Iowa (11.2 percentage points), Minnesota (10.3 points), and Connecticut (7.6 points). In Alaska and New Mexico, unemployment rates for African Americans were lower than the overall rates.

For a much broader look at the situation of African Americans, read the 24/7 Wall St. Worst States for Black Americans, which points out that:

The states where disparities between racial groups are most pronounced are also the areas of the United States where addressing the issue will likely be most difficult. Nationwide, 10.8% of white Americans live in poverty, while the black poverty rate is 27.0%. In the majority of the 10 worst states for black Americans, the poverty rate among black residents exceeds the national black poverty rate. At the same time, in three of the 10 states, the poverty rate among white residents is actually lower than the corresponding national rate.

The 10 states are Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida, Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.