Black Unemployment Remains High

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Economists regularly point out the unemployment of black Americans is at multiyear and perhaps all-time lows. It is still, however, nearly double that of whites.

In June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation report, the national unemployment rate hit 4.0% as the economy added 213,000 jobs. White unemployment was 3.5% for the month, compared to 6.7% for blacks. Additionally, the rate for adult men was 3.7%, the rate for Hispanics was 4.6% and for Asians 3.2%. The unemployment rate for blacks in June 2017 was 7.2%.

Only one state had an unemployment rate higher than blacks. The BLS pegged Alaska’s jobless rate at 7.1% in May. The next higher rate for the same month was West Virginia at 5.4%.

A summary of the BLS data for June:

The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage point to 4.0 percent in June, and the number of unemployed persons increased by 499,000 to 6.6 million. A year earlier, the jobless rate was 4.3 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was 7.0 million.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 percent), and Asians (3.2 percent) increased in June. The jobless rate for (12.6 percent), Whites (3.5 percent), Blacks (6.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.6 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs increased by 211,000 in June to 3.1 million, and the number of reentrants to the labor force rose by 204,000 to 2.1 million. (Reentrants are persons who previously worked but were not in the labor force prior to beginning their job search.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 289,000 in June to 1.5 million. These individuals accounted for 23.0 percent of the unemployed.