Black unemployment rate rises while white joblessness falls

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Black unemployment climbed to the highest in more than a decade in May as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on the U.S. labor market.

The 16.8% rate for black Americans topped that for white Americans, which ticked down to 12.4% last month, according to a report published Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest rate was among Latino workers, 17.6% of whom reported being unemployed.

The unemployment-rate gap between black and white Americans had been narrowing since 2011, but even at its low in August, the black unemployment rate was two percentage points above white Americans’ 3.4% rate. The difference between the two rates swelled during the last recession.

Racial inequality has been under a harsh spotlight in the U.S. since the George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, sparked days of continuing nationwide protests.

The significant job losses during the pandemic have pushed the overall ratio of Americans with a job to just above 50%. For black Americans, that number is now below 50%.

Bloomberg News