Unemployment Rate Fell For Everyone Except Black Women
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December’s jobs report was released last week, and the numbers seemed promising as the unemployment rate overall decreased; however, breaking down the data by gender and race tells a different story. “The unemployment rate fell in December for all U.S. workers except Black women.”

The unemployment rate was 7.1% for all Black workers, in a stark contrast to the 3.2% unemployment rate for white workers, which has continued to fall for the fifth month in a row. This translates to an almost double rate when it comes to Black versus white unemployment, and this two to one ratio “has been consistent throughout history [as] economists have found.”

Beck Frankiewicz, Regional President of ManpowerGroup North America, a staffing firm, said “2022 is not only a new year, it’s a new horizon for the American labor market—and [last week’s] disappointing report suggests we have some work to address supply and match challenges.”

These numbers indicate a larger trend in an “uneven economic recovery that is leaving Black people out of the picture.”

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A chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, Kate Bahn, has cited racial bias and racism as the cause. “Discrimination is happening on multiple fronts…It’s happening on the downturn if you get laid off and then also, the degree to which hiring picks back up, there could also be discrimination in hiring. So that would also disproportionately harm Black workers.”

Economic Policy Institute senior economist Elise Gould also chimed in, “Discrimination and occupational segregation and all sorts of other related factors have meant that outcomes for Black workers are worse in the labor market than that for white workers…That translates into historically a higher unemployment rate that’s about two times that of white workers throughout the business cycle.”

In terms of what the numbers mean moving forward, President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Nicole Mason, said “What the December numbers signaled to me is that we are in for a bumpy, tumultuous ride ahead in terms of our recovery, especially for Black women and women of color workers who have been disproportionately impacted over the course of the pandemic.”

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