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Giving Compass' Take:
· Writing for The Brookings Institution, Andre M. Perry highlights the disparities between black and white unemployment and explains that black unemployment has reached an even higher level than see during the recession.
· Why is the unemployment rate among black workers higher now than it was during the recession? How can donors make a difference on this front and close the racial employment gap?
The unemployment rate is 15.8% in Newark, N.J. It’s an alarming 17.4% in Detroit. And in Flint, Mich. more than a quarter of the population is unemployed. If these numbers referred to the white unemployment rate, our leaders would be doing everything possible to improve it. But these rates represent black unemployment, and no one is sounding the alarm.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their May jobs report on June 7. Media attention focused on job figures, which fell below economists’ predictions. Although the economy generated fewer jobs than expected, analysts saw the unchanged unemployment rate of 3.6% as a reassuring sign amid fears of an impending recession.
The stability of the national unemployment rate shouldn’t lull us into a false sense of economic security. The same metric forecasts a much different outlook for black people. Since the aggregate rate uses population-wide data, it does not account for differences among racial groups, geographic areas, and other specific characteristics that paint a much different picture of the economy.
Although economists consider the U.S. economy to be approaching full employment – a situation when there are more jobs than people – black Americans are experiencing unemployment at Great Recession-era levels. For many black Americans, the unemployment rate is significantly higher now than during the recession. While the national unemployment rate is the lowest in 50 years, this figure primarily reflects white employment dynamics. Last month’s lower employment figures certainly should raise concerns of an economic downturn, but black communities are already in a recession.
Read the full article about black unemployment in the US by Andre M. Perry at The Brookings Institution.