Black-White Unemployment Gap Soars as Black Unemployment Rate Jumps

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks as U.S. President Joe Biden looks on in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 26, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The United States saw the widest gap in unemployment rates for African Americans and whites in years at the conclusion of the first year of Biden’s presidency, underscoring an uneven recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the Biden administration’s failure to meet its promises to foster racial equity in the economy.

The jobless rates for whites fell half a percentage point to 3.2 percent, while the rate for blacks rose from 6.7 percent to 7.1 percent, according to data released by the Labor Department on Friday.

As a result, black unemployment is now more than twice the white unemployment rate. In fact, at 220 percent the white unemployment rate, the racial gap is tied with the second-highest of this century. The long-term average, going back to the 1970s, is for the black unemployment rate to be 215 percent of the white unemployment rate. Since the turn of the century, the gap has averaged slightly less than 200 percent.

The gap is even larger for men. White men have an unemployment rate of three percent, while black men have an unemployment rate of seven percent. That works out to a racial gap of 2.3 percent.

In August 2019, the black-white unemployment gap fell to 1.5 percent, the lowest level ever. During the Trump administration, the gap was below average for all but one month.

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