White Boy Summer: Black Employment Fell in July While White Employment Rose By 1.1 Million

President Joe Biden walks with Vice President Kamala Harris after speaking on updated guidance on face mask mandates and COVID-19 response, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The stronger than expected jobs figures released Friday conceals a troubling sign for the economy: black employment fell in the best month for the labor market since Joe Biden was inaugurated.

The economy added an estimated 943,000 jobs in July. But those job gains were far from evenly distributed.

White employment rose by 1.1 million in July. Asian employment rose by around 267,000. Black employment actually declined. Hispanic employment, which is counted separately and includes people of any race, rose.

The job losses were concentrated among black men. Black women gained jobs for the month.

The black labor force participation rate fell in July. So did the labor force participation rate for Hispanic women. These were two demographic groups hit the hardest by the pandemic. The worry is that the resurgent virus is once again having an earlier and bigger impact on jobs for the most economically vulnerable in the U.S.

The black employment to population ratio also ticked down in July. It rose for whites, Asians, and Hispanics.

The unemployment rate fell across almost all demographic groups. The black unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point to 8.2 percent, with black male unemployment plunging from 10 percent to 8.4 percent, an 18 percent decline in unemployment.  That is by far the biggest percentage improvement among the groups broken out by the Department of Labor.

But black teenagers were not as fortunate. While white, Asian, and Hispanic teenage unemployment fell in July, the black teenage unemployment jumped from 9.3 to 13.3. This might not be as bad as it sounds because it was largely driven by a jump in the black teenage participation rate.

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