Unemployment rate ticks up for Black women

The unemployment rates reportedly went down for many demographic groups in America. But not so for Black women.

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The unemployment rate for Black women in America appears to be on the rise. 

The unemployment rate for Americans is going down, but for Black women, it’s going up.

CNBC recently reported unemployment rates for Black women in the U.S. aged 20 and over “rose to 6.1% in February from 5.8% in the previous month,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, unemployment in the nation “fell to 3.8% last month from 4% in January.”

A “Now Hiring” sign is displayed at a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles. The unemployment rate for Black women in America appears to be on the rise. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The unemployment rates went down for many demographic groups, including Black men. Black American women, however, were the only race and gender still being left behind, according to the most recent data from the BLS.

Unemployment rates for Black men decreased from 7.1% in January to 6.4% last month, the best improvement across the board.

“In the aggregate, it’s a really positive report, but there are still some troubling signs,” said Michelle Holder, an economist at John Jay College and president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, told CNBC.

Nearly a third of all Black women in the U.S. labor force work in health care and social services, which was greatly disrupted by COVID-19, according to the report. As a result, the pandemic sidelined female workers, economists told CNBC.

TheGrio’s White House Correspondent April Ryan reported in February that the unemployment rate for Black Americans had seen a drop. However, Black America continues to struggle, as its jobless numbers are still more than double that of white America. Today, the Black unemployment rate is still higher than the national average of 4 percent. The Black jobless claims in January stood at 6.9%, down from 7.1% in December 2021.

Since 1972, the Black unemployment rate has always been higher than mainstream America, Ryan reports. However, according to Elise Gould, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, “The white unemployment rate is now lower than the Black unemployment rate has ever been.”

The disparity is attributed to “uneven labor-market recovery during the pandemic,” per CNBC. 

Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research told CNBC, “We need to pay attention to this so that we don’t leave people behind in the recovery or turn away from the work that still needs to happen in order to make sure that everyone is able to recover, especially those who were disproportionately impacted by job and income losses during the pandemic.”

This article contains additional reporting from April Ryan.

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