On the eve of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, the unemployment rate among African Americans remains more than twice that of white Americans and nearly twice the national average.
According to the latest jobs figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the African American unemployment rate for the month of February was 10.4 percent, compared to the white unemployment rate of 4.7 percent and national average of 5.5 percent.
The latest African American unemployment rate represents a slight uptick over the January figure of 10.3 percent. Whites experienced a slight decline in unemployment from January’s rate of 4.9 percent and the national average also dipped from 5.7 percent.
While the White House boasted about February’s job gains of 295,000 jobs and its 5.5 percent unemployment rate Friday morning, it did acknowledge the “unacceptably high” unemployment rates among African American and Hispanic populations.
In a statement about the jobs data Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, argued that while the African American and Hispanic unemployment is nearly down to pre-recession levels, it is still too high. He pointed to proposals from President Obama as efforts to help.
“This is why the President has proposed a number of policies—including the My Brother’s Keeper initiative for young men of color and tax relief for working families—to help reduce disparities in labor market outcomes,” Furman said.
Obama, the nation’s first African American president, and a number of lawmakers will be in Selma on this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the march.