Unemployment Worse for Communities of Color

According to Friday’s jobs report, black and Latino unemployment remain at perilously high levels. The national unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent while Latinos fight 11.3 percent unemployment and black workers hover at an astonishing 15.9 percent. White Americans face a difficult but much lower 8.1 percent unemployment. They haven’t escaped the nation’s economic turbulence unscathed but they are financially better off than blacks and Latinos by and large. Without access to sufficient and sustained income through employment, weak job growth will continue to trap Latinos and African Americans in a cycle of dramatically depressed wealth and fewer asset-retaining opportunities.

To contextualize the depth of unemployment for people of color, the Latino unemployment rate has remained about two times or more of its pre-recession levels since January 2010—steadily rising since the end of 2006. African Americans have endured stagnated unemployment at 9.2 percent or higher—as high as 16.3 percent—since early 2008. This news is not new but it’s crucial in an ongoing debate about job creation, social service funding, high national debt, and a very slow recovery. Namely, investing in jobs for people of color is good for the economy in the long run.

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