Even as economists welcomed a labor market recovery from the start of the Covid 19 jobs pandemic, when unemployment peaked at 14.8 percent, through November, when it was 4.2 percent, Black Americans have continued to have a considerably higher unemployment rate.
In November, Black Americans had a 6.7 percent jobless rate, while white Americans had a 3.5 percent unemployment rate. The disparity is even more obvious among men: in November, black men had a jobless rate of 7.3 percent, while white men had a jobless rate of 3.4 percent.
The fact that this imbalance has persisted throughout the pandemic is unsurprising to economists jobs who have long been concerned about the racial divide in unemployment statistics.
According to Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, occupational segregation has made it more difficult for Black Americans to work remotely during lockdowns. Many African-American workers were offered the option of staying in employment including amazon force with higher dangers or determining that the risk was not worth it.
“The two-to-one [disparity] has still been pretty consistent, and I think that says a lot to just how deeply entrenched those labor market inequalities are,” Willson said.
Discrimination in hiring has long been a problem for African-Americans. According to a 2017 study, Black Americans who delete racial references from their resumes are twice as likely to get interviews. The unemployment rate is stable across educational levels, with Black Americans with a high school or bachelor’s degree experiencing double the jobless rate as White Americans with the same degree.
Following the major protests following the death of George Floyd in summer 2020, many companies committed to re-evaluating their hiring processes and focusing on diverse recruitment, the racial gap in the unemployment rate remained. Other statistics demonstrate that no progress has been made: only five Black CEOs manage Fortune 500 companies, and full-time Black workers still earn more than 20% less than white full-time workers.
Even the gains in employment numbers for Black Americans come with qualifiers. The unemployment rate for Black women increased by 2% in November, falling from 7% to 5%, the biggest drop of any demographic. While the number indicates Black women starting careers, it also reflects the tens of thousands of women who left the labor last month, according to government figures, totalling more than 90,000. Despite the fact that all mothers encountered childcare concerns during the epidemic, research has indicated that Black mothers in particular suffered the most difficult childcare issues.
Wilson said there are multiple policies that need to be in place to address the unemployment rate gap but noted the complacency policymakers seem to have with the two-to-one disparity between the Black and White unemployment rates.
“Part of the challenge and difficulty in addressing it is that it sort of becomes normalized, like ‘Oh, OK – that’s just how it works, without us actually sort of questioning and interrogating the way that we understand those disparities,” Wilson said.
Source: Tne Guardian
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