unemployment data
Help wanted sign displayed at a gas station in Mount Prospect, Ill., 27 Jul 2021. (Nam Y Huh/AP/Shutterstock)

Black Unemployment on the Rise, Even As Unemployment Rates Drop for Other Races

Unemployment benefits put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic are ending, and with their expiration comes the disturbing news that the unemployment rate for Black men and women in the country is once again back on the rise.

Thomas Franck, Spencer Kimball, and Nate Rattner of CNBC reported that based on new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers added only 235,000 new jobs to their payrolls in August — far fewer than the 720,000 expected. 

While the nation’s unemployment rate still dropped to 5.2% from 5.4%, the data also revealed that as of August 2021, “Black workers are facing an even bigger struggle to find employment compared with job seekers of other races.”

According to the jobs report, while white unemployment fell to 4.5 from 4.8% in July and Asian unemployment dropped from 5.3% to 4.6%, the rate of unemployment among Black workers actually rose — jumping from 8.2% in July to 8.8% in August. (The unemployment rate for Hispanic and Latino workers also fell slightly, dropping from 6.6 to 6.4 in the last month.)

“A majority of economists and President Joe Biden pointed to the growing number of cases of the COVID-19 delta variant for sluggish overall job numbers,” CNBC reported. “Experts have also pointed to a retreat in consumer confidence for the slowdown in hiring.”

Another startling finding from the BLS report: while Black unemployment grew, labor force participation for Black workers also increased over the same period. Meaning, more Black workers are looking for work now, but it’s becoming harder and harder for them to find jobs. 

In an interview with CNBC, AFL-CIO chief economist William Spriggs, former chair of Howard University’s economics department, said employers simply aren’t working hard enough to address the racial disparities and recruit qualified minority employees. 

“Black workers with an associate degree saw an unemployment rate of 6.9%, while the jobless rate among white high school dropouts was 5.8%,” CNBC reported. “The unemployment rate across all races for people without high school diplomas who are 25 and over was 7%, while the jobless rate for Black people with high school diplomas in the same age category was 10%.”

Spriggs and other jobs industry experts say educational achievements like college degrees are no longer being rewarded in the workplace like they used to be, despite the long-held notion that this would always be true.

“A lot of people find jobs, but a bigger share of those who went out looking didn’t. So, the Black unemployment rate has been going up because employers are still passing over Black workers,” Spriggs said. “When you look at those numbers, it’s clear employers are saying, ‘We want workers, but not exactly.’”

Although unemployment is on the rise for Black workers, data shows that many employers have positions they want to fill but are simply unable to. The Labor Department reported a record 10.1 million jobs available in the nation at the end of June.

So, what’s the problem? Spriggs had one simple explanation: blatant, ongoing discrimination in the workplace.

“When you see Black workers struggling but the labor market doing well, that’s a sign of employers showing their preference,” he said.


Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

Latest News

Three BASF Women Leaders Honored at the Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 STEP Ahead Awards

Originally published at basf.com. BASF ranked No. 12 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Three BASF leaders in manufacturing were among 130 women recognized nationally at The Manufacturing Institute’s ninth annual STEP Ahead Awards. Focusing on science, technology, engineering and production (STEP), the program recognizes women…

Wells Fargo Pledges $1 Million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for HBCU Seniors

Originally published at newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) are teaming up to help close the graduation gap for college seniors attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The $1 million Thurgood Marshall…

Hershey Employees and Retirees in the US and Canada Pledged More Than $900,000 in 2021 To Support Nonprofit Organizations

Originally published on LinkedIn. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    Each year, our Season of Giving campaign encourages Hershey employees to make a difference by supporting nonprofit organizations which they find to be meaningful. Employees and retirees in…

Creating Windows and Mirrors: Hershey’s Amber Murayi on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the ‘World’s Top Female-Friendly Company’

Amber Murayi is the Hershey Company’s Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy & Business Model Innovation & Co-lead of the Women’s Business Resource Group. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    My position affords me a unique view of DEI…

Black renters

New Study Reveals Landlords Consistently Discriminate Against Potential Renters With Black or Hispanic ‘Sounding’ Names

In the largest study of its kind ever conducted, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research have uncovered what many people of color already know when hunting for an apartment or home: most landlords consistently discriminate or harbor bias against non-white individuals looking to rent their property.  Bloomberg’s Kelsey…

book banning

American Library Association Documents 155 Attempts at Banning Books About POC or LGBTQ Issues in the Last 6 Months

In a depressing turn for anyone who thought society may have outgrown book burning or censorship of books over the last 100 years, it appears the hate-filled phenomenon is back on the rise, increasing with alarming frequency across the country. CNN’s Nicole Chavez has reported the American Library Association “has…