The black unemployment rate returns to historic low, but not really // Economic Policy Institute Blog
Today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the economy added 222,000 jobs in June. If this rate of growth keeps up, we should see the economy heading faster toward full employment over the next year. Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.4 percent. This slight increase happened for the "right" reasons as the labor force participation rate rose slightly to 62.8 percent percentage points and the employment-to-population ratio also rose slightly to 60.1 percentage points. As the economy continues to inch towards full employment, we should expect the recovery to reach all corners of the where workers including young and old, and workers of all races can fully benefit from the economy.
One particularly bright finding in today's report is the noticeable drop in the black unemployment rate. While the unemployment rate for black workers remains far higher than for white workers (7.1 percent versus 3.8 percent), the black unemployment rate has been falling faster than overall unemployment over the last year. It's important to not put too much attention on one month's data because it can be misleading as the black unemployment rate displays a fair amount of measurement-driven volatility. Looking at the longer term trends, black unemployment has fallen 1.5 percentage points over the last year, compared to a 0.5 percentage point drop overall. Previous estimates indicate that the black unemployment rate tends to be more volatile with respect to aggregate labor market changes than the white rate. Still, this improvement is quite a bit stronger than the historical average of roughly a 2 percentage point change in the black unemployment rate for every 1 percentage point change in the overall rate.
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