While the Black unemployment rate has been at an all-time low for two consecutive months now (thanks, Obama!), a closer look at the latest jobs report showed what appeared to be fluctuating stability for African Americans along gender lines. The September jobs report, which was released Friday morning, came under the looming shadow of what economists predict will be a new recession.
Still, there was a sliver of good news to be had as the unemployment rate for Black males dipped half a percentage point from a month earlier to 5.4 percent. That was compared to where it was in May at 6.3 percent.
However, for Black women, it was an entirely different story. While the unemployment rate for Black women has been on the decline in recent months, too, it ticked up 0.2 percentage points to 4.6 percent in September.
For the full perspective, the overall unemployment rate for all Americans fell to a new low of 3.5 percent, and the overall white unemployment rate sat comfortably at 2.9 percent. That was in comparison to the overall Black unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, nearly double that of whites.
None of this was good news, Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group, told NBC News.
“This second miss in the jobs report tells us that a lack of confidence in the economy’s longer-term health is making business owners pessimistic about what’s coming down the pike,” Rick explained. “Given the Fed’s two rate cuts this year, the looming pressure from tariffs, increasing market volatility and a meager international economic landscape, their anxieties are understandable.”
That concern was helping to paint a clearer picture of which groups would be most affected by what would be the first recession in a decade. And by “groups,” I mean Black people.
Slow job growth was another concern. “1.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 278,000 from a year earlier,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in September’s jobs report. On top of that, the country added only 136,000 jobs last month, falling short of the expectations set by economists for 145,000 in September.
But the threat of President Donald Trump being impeached along with the employment repercussions from his trade war with China and series of misguided tariffs, the racial wage gap has continued to widen as the country remains recovering from the Great Recession. All of the above has contributed to Black people not making as much economic progress as the rest of the country has.