Black Unemployment Rate Almost Double White

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The economy added a very modest 108,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.1%. The rate of the increase was slower than it has been many recent months. One thing did not change much, however. Nearly twice as many black Americans as white Americans are unemployed, as measured on a percentage basis.

In March, the black unemployment rate was 6.9%. Among whites, the figure was 6.9%, or 92% higher. The only rate lower than whites was Asians at 3.1%. The only rate that approached the high black unemployment rate was Hispanics, at 5.1%.

The black unemployment rate was flat with February’s, but down from 8.1% in March a year ago. However, last April, the rate was 7.0%, so the level has fluctuated modestly over the past year. Among blacks, the group with the highest unemployment rate by far is those 16 to 19 years old, at 27.9%. This figure is approximately what it was across the nation during the Great Depression.

Among the other observations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Employment Situation Summary for March:

In March, the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent for the sixth consecutive month, and the number of unemployed persons, at 6.6 million, changed little.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 percent), teenagers (13.5 percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (6.9 percent), Asians (3.1 percent), and Hispanics (5.1 percent) showed little or no change in March.

At 1.3 million, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed in March and accounted for 20.3 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 338,000.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, changed little in March, and the employment-population ratio held at 60.4 percent.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.0 million in March. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.