The U.S. economy gained 528,000 jobs in July despite recession warning signs with overall unemployment dropping to a 50-year-plus low, but the Black workers were the only demographic group to see unemployment rise.
The Black unemployment rate is almost 100 percent higher than white at 6 percent compared to 3.1 percent.
Unemployment fell across the board from 3.6 percent to 3.5 percent, the U.S. Labor Department reported. That’s the same level as before the pandemic hit, with all 22 million jobs lost to covid-19 now recovered.
However, ongoing discrepancies persist in the job market, with overall Black unemployment at 6 percent. The unemployment rate was 5.7 percent among Black men while the rate declined to 5.3 percent among Black women.
By comparison, Hispanic women workers scored particularly well, with the jobless rate down from 4.5 percent in June to 3.2 percent in July.
“We can have really, really strong job growth this month, but it doesn’t feel like a robust and broadly shared recovery,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a labor market policy analyst at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Black men, who are incarcerated at disproportionate levels, account for a third of those out of the labor force, Brookings reported in March 2021.
The labor force participation rate — how many people are employed or looking for work — grew among Black women from 62 percent in June to 62.3 percent in July. But it shrank among Black men from 68.1 percent in June to 67.3 percent in July.
“I don’t know how much of that is a signal of something really changing or just volatility of the data, because the longer-term trend had been pretty positive, pretty strong, ” said Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy, according to a CNBC report
Experts agree that the web of problems facing Black Americans as they try to enter the workforce will not go away, 247WallStreet reported.
Overall, Friday’s employment data shows a strong and resilient job market, AP reported.
”Underestimate the U.S. labor market at your own peril,″ said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Yes, output growth might be slowing and the economic outlook has some clouds on the horizon. But employers are still champing at the bit to hire more workers. That demand may fade, but it’s still red-hot right now.″