Degrees & Dreams: Black College Graduates Find Getting A Job Harder Than Whites

December 29, 2014  |  

Graduation is usually a happy time for most students. A time filled with job prospects. But not so for many African-American grads. According to a new study, Blacks who have completed four years of college are experiencing higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts.

The jobless rate for Blacks in 2013 was 12.4 percent for recent graduates ages 22 to 27, according to John Schmitt, a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Compare this to just 4.9 percent for Whites.

There still is a gap between Black and White college grads; right now it is 7.5 percentage point. But this is a lot higher than in the past. In 2007, it was 1.4 percent, with 4.6 percent of recent Black grads unemployed compared with 3.2 percent of similarly educated Whites. Out of the 1.9 million college graduates in 2013 ages 22 to 27 who were unemployed, 57,000 were Black. Even for jobs in fields, such as STEM where demand is high, Blacks are not hired as much.” The average unemployment rate among young Black engineers was 10 percent from 2010 to 2012. But the underemployment rate was 32 percent.

“This is very different from the past,” Schmitt, a co-author of a study of employment among recent graduates published by the center, told The New York Times. “You’d have to go back to the early 1980s recession to see that pattern.”

“The unemployment rate for college graduates in November, for example, was down to 3.2 percent, compared with 5.6 percent for those with a high school diploma and 8.5 percent among those with less education. College graduates earned roughly twice as much last year as those without a degree,” reports the Times.

And the unemployment rate in 2013 was actually lower for Whites who never finished high school (9.7 percent) than it was for Blacks with some college education (10.5 percent).

Regardless of education, age or job, Blacks continue to be almost twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed, found a new report from the Century Foundation. But as people grow older, the unemployment gap does get smaller. In 2013, it was 3.5 percent for whites, versus 5.7 percent for Blacks.

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