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A double digit unemployment rate is the norm for Black Americans and a rarity for white Americans



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On Friday the unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1% as employers continue to rehire staff. But the economic impacts of the pandemic are still hitting communities of color harder than white Americans: The jobless rate among white workers is 10.1%, compared with 13.8% for Asian workers, and 14.5% for Hispanic workers. The jobless rate is highest among Black workers at 15.4%.

But this racial economic divide also highlights the fact that the job market has always been unequal for Hispanic and Black Americans. The unemployment rate among Black workers has topped 10% in 405 months, or 69.6% of the time, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started calculating it in 1972. Meanwhile, the white unemployment rate has topped double digits in only three months during that same period, or .5% of the time.

The unemployment rate among Hispanic or Latino workers has topped double-digits 190 times, or 33.5% of months since March 1973 when the BLS started calculating that rate. And since 2000, when the BLS started calculating an unemployment rate among Asian workers, it has topped double-digits on three occasions, or 1.2% of months during that period.

The three months that the white jobless rate has topped double-digits all occurred since the onset of the 2020 pandemic. The current 11.1% unemployment rate for white workers is just below the average unemployment rate for Black Americans since 1972 of 11.4%.

However, workers who have lost jobs during the pandemic have felt the effects blunted somewhat by the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits which are set to expire at the end of July.

Furthermore, since March, Fortune found the economic pain continuing to be spread unevenly. Some 24% of Black workers say they’ve lost their jobs and another 31% of say they’re seen their hours or pay cut, finds a Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll of 4,109 U.S. adults between May 20 and 26. That compares to 11% and 28% of white workers, respectively.

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Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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