The Department of Labor Has Published a Report on the African-American Labor Force in the Recovery

 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
 
The Department of Labor has published a report discussing the African-American Labor Force in the current economic recovery, http://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/reports/blacklaborforce/.  While the unemployment rate for African Americans fell substantially in January to 13.6 percent, it remains significantly higher than the 8.5 percent rate of November 2007, just prior to the recession. Aggregate numbers show that the African-American community as a whole has exhibited poorer labor market outcomes than other races even prior to the recession and during the recovery, demonstrating that they often face different and greater challenges.

The average unemployment rate for Blacks in 2011 was 15.8 percent, compared to 7.9 percent for Whites, and 11.5 percent for Hispanics. The slower recovery for African Americans in the labor market has been partly the result of government layoffs after the official end of the recession. Blacks have been more vulnerable to the drastic layoffs in government in the past two years because they make up a disproportionate share of public sector workers. Moreover, with the exception of health and education, Blacks are under-represented in the sectors that have experienced the greatest job growth during the recovery, including manufacturing and professional and business services.  Another factor that may explain some of the lag in labor force outcomes for Blacks is that they are more likely to live in economically depressed areas with fewer opportunities for employment. Living in these areas means that Blacks live farther away from jobs and are surrounded by other unemployed persons who are less likely to refer them to jobs. 

The Department and other agencies introduced programs to increase the skills of African Americans, encouraged the creation of jobs in sectors and areas that reach African-American workers, and strengthened enforcement actions that address discriminatory practices.


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