Black unemployment falls for wrong reasons

NNPA Newswire

Black workers continued to experience lackluster job growth under the Trump Administration, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department.

Although the share of Black workers in the population that held jobs ticked up from 57.6 percent in April to 57.7 percent in May and the unemployment rate decreased from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent, the latest numbers also indicated that some Black workers exited the labor market.

The 7.5 percent Black unemployment rate is more than double the jobless rate of white workers, a stubborn disparity that has existed for decades.

Though the jobless rate for white workers also decreased, it was likely because they stopped looking for work, too. Both white and Black working men over 20 lost ground in the labor market last month. So did white women, who not only left the labor market, but were also employed at lower rates in May than the previous month.

Black women entered the labor market and found jobs at higher rates in May compared to April. The labor force participation rate for Black women increased from 62.7 percent April to 62.9 percent in May.

In a blog about the labor market for the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), researchers noted that job growth has slowed. The EPI said that the American economy should not only be adding jobs, but also experiencing stronger wage growth.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), recently joined Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to introduce H.R. 15, the “Raise the Wage Act of 2017.” Scott said that it has been 10 long years since we last raised the minimum wage.

“While 29 states have taken action to raise their wages above the federal minimum since then, minimum wage workers in 21 states are still paid $7.25 an hour. This leaves a full-time, year-round worker with a dependent child living below the federal poverty threshold,” said Scott.

“Today’s low-wage workers earn less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than their counterparts did 50 years ago, but productivity has nearly doubled over that same time period. That is unacceptable.”