Black unemployment hits highest rate in more than a decade

Greg Nash

Black unemployment hit its highest rate in a decade in May, despite an economy-wide reduction in unemployment after coronavirus-driven record highs in March and April.

President Trump Friday touted a better-than-expected jobs report, which showed a 13.3 percent unemployment rate in May, surprising economists who’d predicted that number would rise as high as 19 percent.

“What we’re announcing today is a great tribute to equality, you know, we have our jobs back,” Trump said at a Rose Garden press conference on the official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment summary released Friday.

“Just prior to the China plague that floated in, we had numbers, the best in history for African American, for Hispanic American and for Asian American and for everybody,” said Trump.

But for black workers, the May unemployment rate was 16.8 percent, a slight uptick from the 16.7 unemployment rate in April, according to BLS numbers.

Black unemployment in May represented the highest rate in more than a decade, according to an analysis of BLS statistics by Bloomberg.

The report also showed a 17.6 percent unemployment rate for Hispanics in May, an improvement from the 18.9 percent rate a month prior, but still the highest among all racial and ethnic groups surveyed by the BLS.

Unemployment among white workers dropped to 12.4 percent in May, from a high of 14.2 percent in April.

According to the analysis by Bloomberg, the gap between black and white unemployment hit its lowest point in August 2019, when black unemployment was 3.4 percentage points higher than white unemployment.

That gap spiked to 4.4 percentage points in May, eliminating much of the progress made in reducing that gap since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The disproportionate effect of the coronavirus pandemic on minorities and the widespread unrest over the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin have brought racial and ethnic disparities to the forefront of political discourse months ahead of November’s presidential election.

The Trump administration has sought to portray the economic crisis wrought by the pandemic as a blip in an otherwise ascendant economic curve for Americans of color.

Tags Black Americans Black unemployment rate Donald Trump Unemployment
See all Hill.TV See all Video