African Americans systematically suffer higher unemployment rates than Whites, even in a good labor market.
With the tightest labor market in almost 20 years and a historically low Black unemployment rate (6.4%), Black workers remain twice as likely to be unemployed as White workers (3.1%)—a pattern that has persisted for more than 40 years. In fact, this 2-to-1 ratio holds in practically every state in the nation where Black workers make up a significant share of the workforce.
Even Black workers with a college degree are more likely to be unemployed than similarly educated White workers (3.5% vs. 2.2%).
When they are employed, Black workers with a college or advanced degree are more likely than their White counterparts to be underemployed when it comes to their skill level—almost 40% are in a job that typically does not require a college degree, compared with 31% of White college grads.
While unemployment skyrocketed for Black and White workers in the COVID-19 labor market, the unemployment rate is higher for Black workers.
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