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The jobs report for July is being hailed as “strong” after seeing the unemployment rate drop nationally as well as for most of the major groups, including Black workers, compared to data from the previous month. But economists cautioned that any celebration should be tempered in what they described as the long game to achieving employment parity across all work sectors and workers’ demographics.

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released July’s jobs report on Friday morning, showing that the national unemployment rate dropped a half of a percentage point to 5.4%. The Black unemployment rate, though, fell double that of the nation and was lowered a full percentage point to 8.2%.

Unemployment Rates Drop

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a think tank that offers context when it comes to America’s economy, said in a press release emailed to NewsOne on Friday that the entire jobs report is “strong,” bodes well for the recovery from the recession and estimated that all of the jobs lost in that time are on pace to be made up in seven months.

Specifically, with the Black unemployment rate, CEPR noted that July’s 8.2% was at “a level not reached following [the great recession of 2008] until May of 2016,” suggesting President Joe Biden‘s economic recovery efforts from the pandemic have outpaced the notable achievements in that arena by President Barack Obama, who was responsible for the steadily lowering unemployment rates that lingered into Donald Trump‘s presidency.

The black unemployment rate is still way too high

With that said, Black workers still had the highest unemployment rate of any group, with Hispanics having the next-highest rate of 6.6%. Conversely, white workers had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.8%. Asians’ jobless rate fell to 5.3%.

CEPR pointed out how Black teens’ unemployment rate shot up 4 whole percentage points, going from 9.3%  to 13.3%. However, the think tank said, that was “still lower than any pre-pandemic level.”

Still not all good news for Black workers

Reuters put July’s jobs report in perspective when it came to Black workers, emphasizing that “Nearly 250,000 African Americans left the workforce and the total number employed fell by 12,000,” a trend that has been the opposite for workers across the other major groups.

That made the July jobs report something akin to fools gold, Reuters suggested, because the Black unemployment rate was dictated by the number of Black workers who just plain stopped looking for work instead of those who were actually hired.

“The numbers indicate the drop in the Black unemployment rate was driven not by more people finding jobs, but by a rise in the number of people setting their job searches aside,” Reuters reported.

Black workers are still being left behind by the recovery

The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) in March published a study casting doubt about the methodology BLS uses to tabulate its unemployment data, especially when it comes to Black workers. INET suggested that BLS’ data is inaccurate and downplays Black unemployment.

On average, Black men’s unemployment rate is 2.8 percentage points higher than BLS data shows,” according to INET’s study, entitled, “Masking Real Unemployment: The Overall and Racial Impact of Survey Non-Response on Measured Labor Market Outcomes.” The same was true for BLS’ unemployment rate for Black women, which INET found was, on average, about 2.4 percentage points lower than its actual rate. The differences grow for younger Black males from 16 to 34 years old.


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