Black Employment Rose Faster than White Employment in July, Black-White Jobless Gap at Historic Low

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The better than expected jobs gains in July boosted black employment in the United States by more than it boosted white employment. As well, the black-white gap in unemployment is at a historic low.

The number of black Americans holding jobs in the United States rose 1.4 percent in July, according to data released by the Department of Labor Friday. That bested the 0.6 percent gain for white Americans and 0.7 percent gain for Hispanic Americans. The biggest jobs gains went to Asian Americans, who saw total employment rise by 5.1 percent.

Black Americans also saw a gain in the labor force participation rate, which rose two-tenths of a percentage point to 60.2 percent. The participation rate for black men rose four-tenths of a percentage point, to 65.6 percent. Black women experience a two-tenths gain the participation rate to 60.2 percent.

By contrast, the white participation rate declined two-tenths of a percentage point to 61.4 percent. White men saw their participation rate drop three-tenths to 69.8 percent. The participation rate for white women was unchanged at 56.9 percent.

The black unemployment rate fell eight-tenths of a percentage point to 14.6. The white unemployment rate fell by nine-tenths to 9.2 percent, a bit higher in part because the white participation rate declined.

The gap in unemployment between black and white Americans is now at its narrowest point in historical records going back to the 1970s. Typically, black unemployment rarely falls below 200 percent of the white unemployment rate. Even in recessions, when unemployment is generally rising, the racial gap remains close to 200 percent. Last year, as unemployment rates hit historic lows, the gap narrowed to 1.6 to 1, the lowest on record since 1972.

When unemployment soared as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some feared the gap would rapidly return. But it has not. In July, black unemployment was just 156 percent of white unemployment. In June, it was just 152 percent. That was a new record low.


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