RELEASE: The Black and White Labor Gap in America

Read the issue brief here.

Washington, D.C. — One of the topics likely to be tackled this week during the NAACP Annual Conference in Los Angeles is the persistently high unemployment rates among African Americans. As a new issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress explains, although all Americans saw significant job losses during the Great Recession and high unemployment rates persist, the African American community has suffered worse unemployment rates than any other ethnic and racial groups.

According to the brief’s authors Christian E. Weller and Jaryn Fields, the unemployment rate for African Americans is much higher and rose much faster than for whites. In fact, the unemployment rates for many subsets of African Americans continued to rise during the economic recovery while they started to drop for whites.

The issue brief explores the reasons behind the persistently high unemployment rates among African Americans. The authors then call on policymakers to address the unemployment problem in whatever plan comes together to raise the federal debt limit, but note that African Americans face unique structural obstacles that prevent them from benefiting from economic and labor market growth. The authors explore policy options to address the problem in the short term, including an overhaul of the unemployment insurance system and the establishment of job creation and job training programs to those groups most in need.

Read the issue brief here.

To speak with Christian E. Weller or Jaryn Fields about this issue, please contact Raúl Arce-Contreras at or 202.478.5318.