Black Unemployment at 6%

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Among the things largely lost in the new jobs report, the Employment Situation Summary for September, is that the unemployment rate for black Americans was 6%. This is what the national unemployment rate was in September 2014, when the economy was at the tail end of its recovery from the Great Recession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that in September the national jobless rate dropped to 3.7% as the economy added 134,000 jobs. The number was less than what was expected by many economists but was impressive nevertheless because it was the lowest since 1969.

But the rate remains very uneven. In September, the rate among white Americans was 3.3%. Among adult men, it was 3.4%. Among Asians the figure was 3.5%, and among Hispanics it was 4.5%.

Granted, the black unemployment rate was down from 6.3% in August. However, it is higher than in September 2017, when the rate was 5.8%. The national unemployment rate in September of last year was, on the other hand, 4.2%, so the new 3.7% in a substantial improvement across the entire national workforce over the one-year period.

A summary of the BLS report for September:

The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 3.7 percent in September, and the number of unemployed persons decreased by 270,000 to 6.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.5 percentage point and 795,000, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult women (3.3 percent) and Whites (3.3 percent) declined in September. The jobless rates for adult men (3.4 percent), teenagers (12.8 percent), Blacks (6.0 percent), Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (4.5 percent) showed little or no change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 1.4 million over the month; these individuals accounted for 22.9 percent of the unemployed.

In September, the labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 60.4 percent, was little changed.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased by 263,000 to 4.6 million in September. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full-time jobs.