The U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs in June, an extraordinary recovery from the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic drove the jobless rate to near Great Depression levels. The national unemployment rate dropped to 5.8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its “THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — JUNE 2021”. The report also showed a wide divergence in the employment rate of people by age, gender and race.
The unemployment rate among white Americans was 5.2%. Among Asian Americans, the figure was 5.8%. Among Hispanics, the figure was 7.4%, and among Blacks, the figure was 9.2%. Among adult men, the figure was 5.9%. Among women, it was 5.5%. Among teenagers, it was 9.9%. That means the unemployment rate among Black Americans was nearly as high as it was among Americans ages 16 and 19 years old.
The numbers mean that the Black unemployment rate was 77% higher than the figure for whites.
The pattern of where Americans work has also started to change. A total of 14.4% of people “teleworked” because of the pandemic, down from 16.6% in May. As another sign of the effects of COVID-19:
In June, 6.2 million persons reported that they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic–that is, they did not work at all or worked fewer hours at some point in the last 4 weeks due to the pandemic.
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.