Black Unemployment Is at an All-Time Low, But …


The unemployment rate among black Americans fell to 6.6 percent in April, according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — the lowest such rate on record.

The record in this case only goes back to 1972, and the overall unemployment rate (available back to 1948) was lower in the late 1960s and early 1950s than it is now. But the gap between the black unemployment rate and the overall rate has been shrinking, so 6.6 percent may well be the lowest rate ever for black people.

Black Unemployment Is at an All-Time Low

Unemployment rate, civilian population 16 and older, seasonally adjusted

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Now, 6.6 percent is still an anomalously high unemployment rate compared to every other major racial and ethic group in the U.S. The rate in April was 4.8 percent for Hispanics, 3.6 percent for whites and 2.7 percent for Asian-Americans. Still, it’s progress, and it’s worth celebrating, as President Donald Trump did in characteristic fashion earlier this year:

Saying that black unemployment is this low “because of my policies” may seem a bit much, given the rate has simply kept falling at about the same rate that it had for the six years before Trump was elected. Still, it has kept falling, which is important. Just as recessions have been worse (in terms of the unemployment rate rise) for blacks than for everybody else, really long expansions appear to be comparatively better for blacks as they bring people into the workforce who had been struggling to gain a foothold. So prolonging the recovery seems to be especially good for black people, and I think it’s fair to say that the policies of this administration and Congress have on balance been aimed at prolonging the expansion (with the likely side effect of a future fiscal crunch, but whatever).

So I will not begrudge the president a little credit.


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Black Unemployment Is at an All-Time Low, But …

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