Black Teenagers Continue To Struggle Finding Employment During Pandemic

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As the nation's economy continues to recover during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration continues to tout a steady decline in unemployment. Just last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 900,000 jobs were created and the unemployment rate dropped by more than 5%.

"Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years. Jobs are up. The employment rate is the lowest since the pandemic hit. Black unemployment is down as well," President Joe Biden said last Friday.

While unemployment is down nationally, there is still a major sector of Black America that is suffering, Black teens. Analysis of the most recent jobs report from the Brookings Institute found that unemployment among Black teens has spiked within the last month. In June, the unemployment rate among Black teenagers was 9.3%, but it has risen by 4% in the month of July. Overall, the labor force participation rate for Black teens was at 30.8% in July. In comparison, the labor force participation was at 31.6% for Hispanic teens and 37.8% for white teens.

Also, Biden's claim that unemployment is down with Black communities is true, but it is a bit misleading as well. In July, the unemployment rate for Black U.S. residents dropped to 8.2%, but it is still higher than the unemployment rate experienced by Latino, Asian American and white U.S. communities. Moreover, the labor force participation rate for Black workers dipped from 61.6% to 60.8% in July. Not to mention, the drop in unemployment that Biden mentions is partly driven by a decrease in the labor force population, as the total number of employed and unemployed Black workers decreased.

"The new surge in COVID-19 cases raises the question of how long the trend of declining U.S. unemployment will last," Kristen Broady, Tiffany N. Ford, and Carl Romer of the Brookings Institute report.

"For now, young Black workers are still not seeing the economic recovery come to their communities. Before we celebrate a return to full employment, we must address how employment has never been full for Black workers, especially young Black workers."

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