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Black Unemployment Rate Falls to 8.1 Percent in November

Freddie Allen | 12/7/2016, 2:20 p.m. | Updated on 12/7/2016, 2:20 p.m.
The Black unemployment rate improved from 8.6 percent in October to 8.1 percent in November, according to the latest jobs ...

The Black unemployment rate improved from 8.6 percent in October to 8.1 percent in November, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department.

The White unemployment rate ticked down from 4.2 percent in October to 4.1 percent in November, likely because White workers dropped out of the labor market. The labor force participation rate for White workers, which is the share of workers either employed or looking for jobs, continued a three-month slide and was 62.7 percent in November.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate for Black workers edged up slightly from 61.8 percent in October to 61.9 percent in November and the employment-population ratio, or the share of Blacks that have jobs compared to the total population, also took steps in the right direction, increasing from 56.5 percent in October to 56.9 percent in November.

Black men over 20 years old showed the most gains among the adult worker groups in November, but they were also in the biggest hole. The unemployment rate for Black men improved from 8.7 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November. The share of Black men who held jobs also increased from 61.7 percent to 62.3 percent. The unemployment rate for Black men was still higher than the jobless rate for White men, White women, and Black women.

Last month, the jobless rate for White men fell below 4 percent to 3.9 percent, but the labor force participation rate also ticked down from 71.9 percent in October to 71.7 percent in November.

Employment prospects for Black women over 20 years old showed small gains in November. The labor force participation rate for Black women increased from 62.3 percent to 62.6 percent and the employment-population ratio also increased from 57.9 percent to 58.2 percent. The jobless rate for Black women was 7.1 percent in November, unchanged since October.

The unemployment rate for White women over 20 years old decreased from 3.8 percent in October to 3.7 percent in November and the share of White women that held jobs slipped from 55.3 percent in October to 55.2 percent in November.

The Labor Department reported that the national unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent in November, and the economy added 178,000 jobs in November.

“In November, 1.9 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, up by 215,000 from a year earlier,” the Labor Department report said. “These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed, because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.”

In a post on EPI.org, the website for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Elise Gould, senior economist for EPI, wrote that the national unemployment rate declined, “largely because of a drop in labor force participation.”

Gould also noted that even though wage growth is now faster than it was in the first five-plus years of the recovery, when it averaged two percent, “It doesn’t reflect full employment wage growth, or even the wage growth we experienced before the Great Recession hit — by no means a full employment economy.”