Unemployment Rates Show Unequal Economic Recovery For Black Workers


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The financial and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic still remains visible and felt, especially among Black Americans.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows economic recovery is not happening at the same rate for Black workers in the US. When it comes to essential work, Black people and other people of color are more likely than other groups to have jobs that provide critical services and have low wages and low protections like paid sick leave.

In August, Black people were the only racial or ethnic group whose unemployment rate actually increased.

About nine percent of Black men and eight percent of Black women were out of work, marking about a half-point increase for both groups, while unemployment for other groups dropped, according to NBC News.

This is not a new trend, experts say. Even before the pandemic, there was inequality in which groups of people were more likely to be out of work. For Black people, that rate was nearly always double the rate as white people.

"It typically has held up in that way, regardless of whether the economy is in an upturn or downtown," William Darity, a Duke University economist, told the news outlet.

"As a consequence, there really has never been an improvement in the Black unemployment rate that has brought it to parity with the white unemployment rate. That holds regardless of educational attainment," Darity added.

Data shows that when economic downfalls occur, Black workers are more likely to be the first to lose their jobs. Before the pandemic, data shows Black American households were still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, and going out to find work is not as easy as it may sound.

"Just because you've lost a job doesn't mean that there's one available to you that matches your skillset and pays a wage that you need to live that you could get to," Kristen Broady, a research fellow at the Brookings Institute said.

The nation's removal of social safety nets like the eviction moratorium is only adding to the urgency and severity of the situation Black workers are in.

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