- Black Americans are not finding employment as fast as whites, per the latest jobs report.
- The Black unemployment rate stands at 9.2%, nearly double the white jobless rate.
- Experts say it threatens to widen the wealth gap between Blacks and whites.
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The pace of the nation’s economic is continuing to gain momentum. On Friday, the latest jobs report showed the US regained 850,000 jobs in June, a sharp increase from the previous month and significantly above economists’ expectations.
But the accelerating recovery obscures a troubling sign: the stubbornly high Black unemployment rate. It stood at 9.2%, slightly higher from May. It’s nearly double the jobless level for whites.
Dr. William Spriggs, an economics professor at Howard University, wrote on Twitter that more Black men and women started searching for jobs last month compared to May. But many were still unable to get one.
The breakdown of the unemployment rate for Black Americans, per the jobs report:.
- The Black male unemployment rate rose slightly to 10% last month.
- For Black females, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.5% in June from 8.2% the month before.
The pandemic battered the leisure and hospitality sectors of the economy, which employed many Black and Latino workers. Indeed, that reality was recognized by
Chair Jerome Powell at a recent Congressional hearing.
“In particular, despite progress, joblessness continues to fall disproportionately on lower-wage workers in the service sector and on African Americans and Hispanics,” Powell told Congress on June 22. He said the Fed would continue gauging the overall state of the labor market before adjusting its loose monetary policy.
Experts say the recovery still threatens to widen the wealth gap between Black and white Americans.
“While encouraging numbers of people are getting back to work at rising wages, communities of color or in lower-income regions still struggle to overcome structural disparities and gain a more equal footing in the economy as the generational wealth gap widens,” Nicole Goldin, a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank, said in an emailed statement.
The elevated Black unemployment is especially concerning in light of the June jobs report showing a big comeback in leisure and hospitality jobs, including a significant wage boost. This suggests the sector’s resurgence could be leaving Black workers behind.