All Articles Tagged "unemployment rate"

Black Unemployment Rate Takes A Big Dip To 9.5%

July 2nd, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The latest unemployment numbers show a decline among Blacks to 9.5 percent. That’s .7 percent lower than last month, and .1 percent lower than April. Among Black women, the unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

The national unemployment rate has fallen from 5.5 percent to 5.3 percent for the month. That’s the lowest rate since April 2008. “But the drop was mostly a result of a 432,000 drop in the labor force, which represents the number of Americans working or looking for jobs,” says USA TodayFor the month of June, 223,000 jobs were added to the economy. For the previous months, initial job addition numbers were revised down, showing that the jobs recovery has been happening at a slower pace than first thought.

Moreover, it’s still a struggle for college grads to get their foot in the door at a lot of companies, prompting them to take jobs they wouldn’t have considered in a better job market. Average hourly earnings remain unchanged at $24.95.

Continuing with the mixed bag results, the number of long-term unemployed has fallen by 300,000 to 2.1 million. Professional and business services, healthcare and retail all saw significant gains. And the energy industries are showing signs of life.

“What’s more, white-collar workers in fields like finance, insurance, software and marketing have been in high demand lately, a turnaround from the early days of the recovery when many new jobs tended to be in low-wage sectors like retailing and restaurants,” adds The New York Times.

Long story short, economists called the report “solid” but “disappointing.”

“The lack of wage growth continues for another month while the labor market’s improvement certainly stalled,” one economist told The Wall Street Journal. 

“[W]e still think there’s a good chance that the Fed will hike rates in September,” added another.

h/t BLS

US Economy Creates 280K Jobs, But Black Unemployment Increases

June 5th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US economy created 280,000 jobs in May, much more than the 220,000 that had been forecast. Even with the positive numbers, the unemployment rate increased from 5.4 percent to 5.5 percent. Still, experts say that it’s evident companies are looking to do some hiring, even with a first quarter that seemed to stall. Wages were also up more than expected, eight cents to $24.96.

“Many economists think the first quarter woes were temporary and that the economy will rebound this spring,” writes the Wall Street Journal. “Federal Reserve officials predict a bounce back, and most have said they expect to begin raising the central bank’s benchmark short-term interest rate from near zero later this year.” Even the International Monetary Fund is asking the Fed to hold off on any changes to the interest rate.

While all that is happening, we have some bad news for Blacks seeking employment: the unemployment rate for Blacks actually increased from 9.6 percent to 10.2 percent. We took a quick look and couldn’t yet find an explanation for the change (we’ll keep an ear to the ground), but this article was published last month after the Black unemployment rate dropped to single digits. The numbers, The Washington Post says, “point to an often-overlooked aspect of America’s racial divide: When the economy reaches the end-stage of a recovery–as the country reaches full employment–African Americans tend see a sudden improvement more dramatic than the rest of the country. And that’s what’s happening now, according to economists, who say that tight employment is the best way to bring down the black joblessness rate.”

Even in good times, the article says, the unemployment rate for Blacks is twice that for whites. Two of the problems identified there are discrimination and criminal history.

Thinking optimistically, we’ll note here that the areas where the greatest job gains were made were leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, healthcare, retail and construction. So if you have any desire for a position in those areas, you might want to polish your resume.

via USA Today and BLS

Jobs Report Shows More Hiring Among Better Paying Jobs

May 11th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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Experts say that last week’s jobs report was not only good news for the declining unemployment rate, but also for the kinds of jobs that are being created nowadays. Higher paying jobs in areas such as professional services, construction and health care are now becoming more common.

For a while, the unemployment rate was creeping downward, but oftentimes it was because low-wage jobs, such as those in retail and food services, and people who just stopped looking after long and fruitless searches. Now we’re seeing more jobs that pay a living wage being added to the economy. Construction added 45,000 jobs, professional and business services added 62,000 jobs and health care added 226,000 jobs over the past six months, up more than 60,000 from the previous six months.

Meanwhile the number of retail jobs added was half of the previous three months, reports USA Today.

Some aren’t as optimistic about the jobs picture. From The Economist:

Do not be fooled by the latest jobs report. The American labour market is far from full strength. As Steve Blitz of ITG Investment Research, a consultancy, points out, the steady improvement in the employment-to-population ratio for 25-to-34-year-olds has stalled in recent months (at around 77%). Although the number of people who want to work full-time but can only find part-time jobs (the so-called “part-time for economic reasons” or “PTER”) has fallen, it remains much higher than before the recession hit. The same goes for “discouraged” workers, those who want a job but say that there is no point in looking.

Even USA Today published a story on Friday saying the opposite of what this new cheerful, positive story says. “Without a vibrant consumer to buy their goods and services, U.S. companies are hesitant to invest in the future. As such, they don’t hire, and they don’t build,” writes Trish Regan, who goes on to say that the jobs created are low-paying ones.

Then, of course, we have an unemployment rate for Blacks that’s still nearly twice the national average. You can’t say the economy is on the positive path when a whole segment of the population isn’t working.

We have to be mindful that some of the good news is the result of policies that artificially prop up the economy. For instance, there has been an economic stimulus plan in place that includes rock-bottom interest rates, enacted during the recession to spur growth. For a while now, Fed Chief Janet Yellen has threatened to put an end to those policies as the economy improves. But that move is consistently postponed.

“Friday’s April jobs report that suggested the economy still has some ways to go to meet the Fed’s criteria for beginning to raise interest rates. And that means more easy money for investors,” writes Business Insider. Yellen sees “market dangers” ahead, even as the economy continues to stop and start due to everything from labor protests to the weather.

In other words, we have to be specific when we look at the US economy and our own personal financing. Make your personal decisions wisely, whether it’s spending, saving or investing. There could be more waves of change ahead.

Unemployment Rate Drops To 5.4% Nationwide; Black Unemployment Rate Down To 9.6%

May 8th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US economy added 233,000 during the month of April, a marked improvement from what we saw last month when only 192,000 jobs were created. (And that figured was actually revised to a lower figure, 85,000, upon closer inspection.) The news puts the economy back on the stronger track that we were seeing in 2014.

It also brought the unemployment rate down from 5.5 percent to 5.4 percent, the lowest point since May 2008. That was at the beginning stages of the Great Recession.

“The jobless rate is moving closer to the Federal Reserve’s expectation of ‘full’ employment, which it pegs between 5% and 5.2%,” writes The Wall Street Journal

The landscape is still a tough one for Blacks, with an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent. But that’s down from 10.1 percent last month.

And those who are locked in part-time jobs or have given up the search dropped from 10.9 percent 10.8 percent. Labor force participation is 62.8 percent, a historic low.

Overall, experts say a number of factors drove the jobs slowdown of the last few months, including bad weather and a labor dispute that kept goods from going in and out of the country through Western ports.  Inc. also argues that factors like a healthier homes and construction sector along with a normalized dollar value versus foreign currencies will help. Average Americans weren’t the only ones hurt by the varying factors. Even tech companies, which have been solid for some time now, were hit.

But, analysts predict, these are all temporary conditions. What has persisted — and what continues to hurt consumers — is wage stagnation. “Workers’ hourly wages grew 3 cents to $24.87 and were up 2.2% from a year earlier. That growth is still modest, but it comes amid other signs wages are slowly picking up from the weak 2% annual pace of recent years,” the Journal added.

The move to increase minimum wages across the state and federal level indicates that the government recognizes a need to increase income to meet the cost of living. Moreover, the willingness for more companies to increase wages shows that competition for a strong, competent staff is heating up, a situation that favors workers. Wages will likely continue to increase, though, of course, we’d all like to see them go up faster.

Via BLS, the AP, New York Times

Job Creation Slows In March To 126,000

April 3rd, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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Resume Keeping You From Getting Hired

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The US economy only added 126,000 jobs in March, the lowest number since December 2013. The unemployment rate was unchanged — 5.5 percent — but there are fears of a slowdown. The average number of jobs added each month of the first quarter of this year was 197,000 versus 324,000 during the final quarter of 2014.

Experts are blaming the harsh winter for the decline. They had expected an addition 248,000 in March.

But there are other indicators that the economy is tapping the brakes. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at an impressive 5% pace in the third quarter last year, then slowed to a 2.2% growth rate in the fourth quarter. Closely watched gauges of consumer spending, business investment and manufacturing output have all pointed to a further slowdown in the first quarter, which ended earlier this week.

Fed chief Janet Yellen says she’s still confident that the economy is on an upward trajectory.

Wages rose seven cents to $24.86, up 2.1 percent for the year. This positive wage news is coupled with word from McDonald’s, Target and a number of other large companies that they will be giving workers raises.

Another bit of positive news: the number of people filing for unemployment fell to a 15-year low of 268,000 last week.

Now back to the negative news: the unemployment rate for Blacks is 10.1 percent. That’s a decrease from 10.4 percent last month, but still nearly twice the national average.

“The unemployment rate for Black communities is crisis level, even as the economy gets closer and closer to a full recovery,” Valerie Wilson from the Economic Policy Institute tells The New York TimesMedian hourly wages for Blacks have also fallen 3.6 percent over the course of the recession, twice that of whites.

National Unemployment Rate At 5.7%; Black Unemployment Still Above 10%

February 6th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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The US economy added a better-than-expected 257,000 jobs during the month of January, inspiring many who had given up the search for work to head back into the hunt. The national unemployment average increased from 5.6 percent to 5.7 percent.

The government even went back and increased the number of jobs added in November and December by 147,000, making November the strongest month we’ve seen in a long time (423,000 jobs added).

“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected payrolls to rise 237,000 in January and the jobless rate to fall to 5.5%,” the newspaper says.

“The report suggested employers maintained enough confidence to keep expanding in 2015 following the best year of job growth during the current expansion,” the article continued.

And to keep the good news coming, average wages also increased 2.2 percent over last year to $24.75 per hour. That’s for the same amount of work hours per week, 34.6. It’s not going to make anyone rich, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Healthcare, retailers, construction and professional and business services were leading the charge in hiring.

But unfortunately, as we report every month it seems, employment numbers for African Americans lags behind the national average at 10.3 percent, nearly double. A closer look at the numbers also shows that it’s Black men who are especially hurting, with an unemployment rate of 10.6. For Black women, it’s 8.7 percent. The Washington Post notes that Blacks are the only group besides teens with an unemployment rate above 10 percent. A chart posted in that story shows that the unemployment rate for Blacks has gone above 15 percent in the past few years.

But, it’s worth noting that that high point happened after the high points for Whites and Hispanics. “This means this demographic group [Black Americans] has had less time to recover from that high,” the paper says hopefully. “If we shift all of the groups to the same starting point (peak unemployment), you can see that black unemployment is still dropping more slowly relative to the peak, but less dramatically different. In other words, the trajectory is similar; it’s just happening a bit later.”

As a whole, consumers are benefiting from more hiring and lower gas prices. Let’s all hope for continued recovery for everyone.

h/t USA Today

Black Unemployment Rate May Hit Single-Digits By Mid-2015

January 13th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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From a big picture perspective, last week’s jobs report, which boasted a 5.8 to 5.6 percent drop in unemployment — sounds pretty inspiring. It is, after all, the lowest unemployment rate since June 2008, before the Great Recession. But zooming in on the Black jobless rate, that figure is nearly twice the national average at 10.4 percent. Worry not, though — there is hope! Analysts foresee a single-digit jobless rate on the horizon.

According to BlackVoiceNews, Black Americans may see the unemployment rate dip down below 10 percent by mid-2015.

“If the same trends in the labor force participation rate and the decline in the unemployment rate that we saw in 2014 continue into 2015, the Black unemployment rate should get down to the single digits by the middle of this year,” said Wilson, director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) at Economic Policy Institute.

Wilson analyzed the labor force participation rate, which includes those who are currently working or actively looking for a job, and the employment-population ratio. “She found that Blacks had the biggest increase in both measures from December 2013 to December 2014,” BlackVoiceNews wrote.

Though the Black unemployment rate still hovers at a disheartening double-digit percentage, it did decrease from 11 percent in November and 11.8 percent from the year prior. Focusing on the labor force performance of Black women over the age of 20, BlackVoiceNews notes a decrease from 9.5 percent in November to 8.2 percent in December. For comparison, White women saw their jobless rate slide from 4.5 percent to 4.4 during the same period.

As for Black men over the age of 20, the unemployment rate trickled down from 11.2 percent to 11 percent from November to December. White men saw their November 4.6 percent jobless rate drop to 4.4 percent in December.

During a Q&A Facebook session with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one inquirer posed that very question about why there is such a stark difference between Black and White unemployment rates:

“Why is it that under the First African-American POTUS only African Americans have had double digit unemployment his entire term and why nothing is being done to address that crisis?” Heyward Johnson asked.

“The unemployment rate for African Americans has fallen 6.4 percentage points since its peak in March 2010. It is close to its pre-recession level but is still unconscionably high. The President’s investments in skills, highway infrastructure and minimum wage help all workers, including African Americans. In addition, the President has targeted specific investments through his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Promise Zones, and Secure Cities, Secure Communities initiative to help address the persistent unemployment and opportunity gaps in minority communities,” Perez replied.

Wilson would assure Johnson that the labor force projections for African Americans looks optimistic: “The African American workforce is benefiting from the job growth that is taking place right now and the longer that continues, the better it’s going to be for those communities.”

“The country added 252,000 jobs last month, higher than the anticipated 240,000,” MadameNoire wrote. “An average of 246,000 jobs were added each month in 2014, the highest since 1999.”

Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.6 Percent For US, Remains At 10.4 Percent For Blacks

January 9th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
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Jobs numbers released this morning show that the unemployment rate in the US has dropped from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate since June 2008, before the big meltdown. Professional services, construction and healthcare led the way on industries that hired last month.

The country added 252,000 jobs last month, higher than the anticipated 240,000. According to USA Today, the numbers for October and November have also been revised higher, with 50,000 more jobs than first reported added to the figures. An average of 246,000 jobs were added each month in 2014, the highest since 1999. Let us take a moment to look at these wise words from our neighbors to the North with regards to our President Barack Obama. And Jon Stewart’s commentary about new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

However, it’s not all good news. Already sluggish wages actually fell five cents to $24.57. The big concern, besides getting people back to work, is getting them a living wage and an income that will generate spending. This doesn’t help.

And speaking of the concern about getting people back to work, one reason why the unemployment rate has dropped is 273,000 stopped looking for work. So the share of Americans who are members of the labor force matches the September low of 62.7 percent.

For Blacks, the numbers aren’t so rosy. African Americans have an unemployment rate nearly twice the national average at 10.4 percent. That’s actually down from 11 percent last month. It’s also lower than the 11.8 percent from a year ago.

Just so we can end on a happy note, we have Goldman Sachs’ forecast that the country will add another 300,000 jobs if oil prices stay as low as they have been. No doubt, if you have a car you’ve noticed how much less you’re spending to fill the tank. Oil prices have dropped below $50 a barrel. With the savings being passed on to the consumer, that means there’s more money to spend elsewhere. Experts hope that spending will drive employers to do more hiring. Some of the industries that USAT says could benefit are the restaurant and auto industries.

US Economy Added 321,000 Jobs In November, The Most In 3 Years, But Wages Are A Concern

December 5th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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The country added 321,000 jobs during the month of November, the most in three years, according to the Labor Department. But it’s wages, not just jobs, that are still a concern for the American economy. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.8 percent.

Despite this good news, the Black unemployment rate crept up from 10.9 percent to 11.1 percent. For Black men, the rate is 11.2 percent. For Black women, it’s 9.6 percent. The number of long-term unemployed (27 weeks or more) is 2.8 million, much the same as previous months. And the number of people working part-time when they would rather have a full-time job is also largely unchanged at 6.9 million.

The areas gaining the most jobs were temp help (23,000), retail (50,000) and manufacturing (28,000). The average workweek rose by .1 hour to 34.6 hours and the average wage went up nine cents to $24.66.

It’s those wage numbers that should be raising eyebrows. Simply put, people are working, but they’re not earning enough money to keep up with the cost of living.

“Economists had expected wage gains to accelerate the second half of the year,” reports USA Today, though experts are happy with the increase in hiring.

“Now that the labor market is tightening, however, employees may even feel confident enough to ask for a raise beyond the piddling 1% or 2% or so that many companies have been offering. So far this year, average hourly earnings have risen 2.1%,” writes a separate USAT story. When people have more money, the entire economy benefits. People can afford to buy more even if companies see a temporary dent in their bottom line to absorb the higher labor costs. Prices go up as a result. To offset what’s called a “wage-price spiral,” the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates a bit. Those rates had been kept low as we worked our way out of the recession. Higher interest may sound all bad, but if you have any sort of savings account, that’s actually a good thing.

Still, even with all of that, there’s the issue of the minimum wage. Many families in this country struggle to make it on retail jobs, in fast-food work and in other low-paying positions. Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first fast-food worker protest. The Fight for 15 campaign, which seeks $15 per hour, led protests in 150 cities this time around. The New York Times focuses on one of the campaign’s biggest supporters, Terrance Wise, who works two jobs at two fast-food restaurants and still, he says, his children live in poverty. Neither job pays more than $10 per hour. Wise, 35 years old, was a high school athlete who seemed well on his way before he had to drop out of high school to support his family after his two brothers went to prison.

That story also includes a wrenching video about a family that juggles a paper thin budget to keep their household going and medications for their children.

Wages for everyone, not just the one percent, need to increase if we’re really going to see the country bounce back and move forward. In the meantime, we mustn’t forget the people at the bottom of the wage scale, who are contributing members of society with families to support as well.

So often, even on this site in the comments section, there are those who say “Fast food jobs aren’t for adults. They’re stepping stones. Get more skills. Get a better job.” That’s all fine and well, but not everyone is in a position to do that. We have a responsibility as a society to provide the basics to those in tough circumstances so they can improve their lives. No one wants to work two jobs and still struggle to survive. We have to be better and do better. That means corporations and the highest earners have to contribute more.

Moreover, as we’ve discussed, when workers make more money, the economy as a whole benefits. So while we’re seeing some very bright lights in these monthly jobs numbers, we have to make sure the jobs people are getting will offer wages that sustain them and their families.

The Unemployment Rate Is Down To 5.9%, But Black Unemployment Is Nearly Twice That

October 3rd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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Hiring continued, and at a nice clip during the month of September with 288,000 jobs added to the US economy for the month. The total is enough to push the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent the previous month. This is the lowest point since 2008.

Still, the unemployment rate for Blacks is virtually unchanged at 11 percent. The unemployment rate for Blacks was 11.4 percent last month. For Whites, it’s 5.1 percent and Hispanics, 6.9 percent. And the number of people who are working part-time who’d rather have full-time work is still at 7.1 million.

Moreover, wages haven’t improved, dropping a penny since the last report for August. The workforce participation rate is also at the lowest point since 1978 at 62.7 percent.

These results exceeded economist expectations, and is the last report before the midterm elections. (Republicans are emphasizing that  workforce participation rate.) So expect to hear quite a bit about this going into November. For Black voters, it will be critical that we hear what’s going to be done to make sure that the job gains are being felt more evenly across all demographics. The economy cannot be considered “well” or “recovered” if a major demographic group has a jobless rate that’s about twice the national average.

We’ve been in touch with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find out why the figure remains so high for Blacks even as it falls for other groups. We’ll update this story when we have more information.

via USA Today, Bureau of Labor Statistics and The New York Times