While America’s economic recovery has continued throughout 2015, the good news hasn’t been equally good for everyone.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2015 fell to 5.1 percent, a 0.2 percent drop from the second quarter, the Economic Policy Institute reports. While that’s certainly proof of America’s rebound, the rates pertaining to specific ethnic groups show how much progress remains to be made.
Although the black unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent — remaining below 10 percent for the second straight quarter — it’s significantly higher than the rate for hispanics (6.4 percent), and it’s more than double the rate for whites (4.4 percent) and Asians (3.6 percent).
The state with the lowest unemployment for blacks in the third quarter of 2015 was Massachusetts, where the number dipped to 5.3 percent. As the EPI reports, however, that number might be misleading, as the state’s overall work force shrank by 1.8 percent — a figure that suggests the falling jobless rates reflect people abandoning their searches, not finding work.
The state with the next-lowest black unemployment rate is Texas, though its 7.1 percent remains slightly higher than the 6.9 percent posted by Tennessee in the second quarter, when that state boasted the lowest rate for African Americans.
Overall, there are now 15 states — four more than in Q2 — where black unemployment is below 10 percent. Again, this is promising, but according to the EPI, there are only six states (Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas) where the jobless rate for African Americans is at or below its pre-recession level. That number is down two from the second quarter of 2015, and as the EPI reported in August, seven of Q2’s eight states — all of them except Texas — had some of the nation’s highest African American unemployment rates before the recession.
In many places, the disparity between black and white joblessness remains especially troubling. In Washington, D.C., the state with the largest gap, black unemployment is 5.7 times higher than the rate for whites.