Black Women Hit Hardest by Biden-ployment Slump

Vice President Kamala Harris, left, looks on as President Joe Biden delivers a speech on foreign policy, at the State Department, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The first jobs report of the Biden administration saw black women the hardest hit by a slumping labor market.

Even though the nationwide unemployment rate fell in January, the unemployment rate for black women jumped from 7.7 percent to 9 percent, the biggest increase among demographic groups reported by the Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate for black men rose just one-tenth of a percentage point. The unemploymeent rate for white men rose three-tenths of a point to 6.2 percent. The unemployment rate for white women remained at 5.3 percent.

Asian unemployment also jumped in January. The rate went from 5.8 to 6.6 percent. The Department of Labor does not separate Asian unemployment by sex.

The unemployment rate for Hispanic men fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9 percent. The rate for Hispanic women rose from 8.8 percent to 9.2 percent.

The jump in unemployment for black women as the Biden administration begins makes for an awkward contrast with the administration’s goal of lowering racial and gender inequalities.

“I’ve been an economist for a long time, and one of the areas where I’ve focused my attention is on the racial disparity in economic outcomes,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in talk with members from local Black Chambers of Commerce on Friday.

The loss of jobs following Biden’s election is already testing that focus.

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