By Frederick H . Lowe
The black jobless rate edged up in May even as President Trump grinned gloated and celebrated a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate to 13.3 percent from 14.7 percent in April as municipalities eased stay-at-home restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, opening the door for more people to feel safe returning to work.
The unemployment rate for black workers was 16.8 percent in May compared to 16.7 percent in April during the height of the pandemic.
The jobless rate for black men 20 and older was a bright spot for black workers. In May, the unemployment rate for black men was 15.5 percent compared to 16.1 percent in April.
On the other hand, the news was not as good for black women 20 and older as the jobless rate rose to 16.5 percent in May compared with 16.4 percent in April.
Elise Gould, a senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute, said payroll employment rose by 2.509 million jobs in May. That is likely due to 31 states lifting stay-at-home orders after falling by 22.1 million jobs in February, she said.
During a news conference, Trump basked in the sunshine of the good news, urging all the states to end stay-at-home restrictions.
Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction, education, health services, and retail trade, but government employment continued to decline. In the last six months, state and local government jobs have fallen by 1.6 million and nearly half, 759,000 jobs, were lost in the local education (public k-12). BLS reported that the number of permanent job losses continued to rise, increasing by 295,000 in May to 2.3 million.
WHITE MEN BENEFIT FROM THE IMPROVEMENT
White men benefited from the improvement in jobs. The white jobless rate in May was 12.4 percent, and among men, it was 10.7 percent in May compared with 12.4 percent in April.
Conversely, the jobless rate among Asians was 15.0 percent in May, up from 14.5 percent in April. The jobless rate for Hispanics was 17.6 percent in May, down from 18.9 percent in April.
Gould added that job losses since February still total 19.6 million and are currently 13 percent below February’s level.
Gould noted the unemployment rates are higher for black workers and Hispanic workers than for white workers.
“Research has shown that historically higher unemployment rates, lower wages, higher poverty rates, and lower liquid savings make job losses even more devastating for African American workers,” EPI reported.