More Americans are entering the labor force in search of work—and that has been particularly true of African-Americans and those who haven’t completed high school, as the economic expansion spreads to pull more workers in from the sidelines.
The share of black Americans actively working or looking for work was 62.2% in June, up slightly from the month before and well above a recent low of 60.3% in 2013. There were 20.
Four million African-Americans were working or seeking work in June compared with 18.4 million in December 2013.
Meanwhile, the share of Americans age 25 and over with less than a high-school diploma has also been trending upward over the past few years. In June, this rate sat at 45.9%, after bottoming out at 43.7% in June 2014. The size of this workforce was 10.5 million workers in June.
The budding return of African-Americans and those who haven’t completed high school to the labor market is a sign of their improving fortunes as the economy expands.
“You’re really seeing that particularly in this tight labor market, those workers who may have felt that they were missing out on the recovery are starting to see some traction,” said Martha Gimbel, Indeed Hiring Lab director of economic research.
Underpinning the rise in participation rates of black workers is their young median age relative to white workers. While whites are retiring, many African-Americans are in their prime working years—the median age for non-Hispanic whites was 43.5 as of 2017 and 34.2 for blacks, according to Census Bureau figures.
“You would expect the aging of the population to be weighing on white Americans more than it is on black Americans,” Ms. Gimbel said.
Friday’s Labor Department report showed the share of American adults working or looking for a job rose by 0.2 percentage point to 62.9% in June. This development in rising workforce participation helped drive the unemployment rate up to 4.0% in June. Unemployment rates for African Americans and those who haven’t completed high school also rose in June.
Over the longer term, jobless rates for black workers and the less-educated workers have trended downward sharply since spiking in the wake of the recession.