Black Workers

Black unemployment was 16.7 percent in April

Black workers

More than 20 million jobs were lost in March because of the pandemic

It is the worst of times for blacks workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that the jobless rate for the blacks was 16.7 percent in April, a giant leap backward from 6.7 percent in March, as the Covid-19 pandemic caused nonfarm employment to fall by 20.5 million jobs last month.

The overall unemployment rate was 14.7 percent in April, the highest since the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939. The number of jobs fell sharply in all major industry sectors, particularly in leisure and hospitality.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in for black men 20 and older in April was 16.1 percent, up 7.0 percent in March. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for black women 20 and older in April was 16.4 percent, way up from 5.2 percent in March.

BLS reported that the sharp increases reflect the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to control it, such as furloughing workers.

The number of individuals who work full time declined by 15 million and the number who worked part-time dropped by 7.4 million.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industries plummeted by 7.7 million. The jobless rate in education and health services declined by 2.5 million. Professional and business services shed 2.1 million jobs and manufacturing dropped 1.3 million jobs. Employment in the services industry declined by 1.3 million jobs and government employment dropped 900,000.

McKinsey & Company reported that the March 14 household survey data from BLS show that racial minorities make up 20 percent of the labor force but 25 percent of the newly unemployed.

The unemployment rate for major worker groups was 14.2 percent for whites, 14.5 percent for Asians and 18.9 percent for Hispanics, the highest rate for all racial groups.

April’s unemployment rate is still an underestimate of the actual number of unemployed workers. It would be higher if all the people who lost their jobs had actually remained in the labor force, said Elise Gould, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C.

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