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.”