Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Congressional Report on African American Unemployment

Joint Economic Committee Releases New Report on Long-Term Unemployment in the African American Community

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee and Joint Economic Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney held a telephone press conference on Friday to follow-up on the release of the report and to take questions. Representative Maloney and Representative Lee pledged to aggressively address the issues included in the report.

A new report released today by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) provides an in-depth look at unemployment and long-term unemployment among African Americans and shows that both the unemployment rate and the duration of unemployment increased dramatically during the Great Recession for African American workers.

“Understanding the Economy: Long-Term Unemployment in the African American Community” is the first in a series of JEC reports examining the unemployment situation among several demographic groups, including African Americans, Hispanics, youth, and women. Prepared by the JEC’s Majority staff, the report draws from previously unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and found that though African Americans make up 11.5 percent of the labor force, they account for 17.8 percent of the unemployed, 20.3 percent of those unemployed for more than six months, and 22.1 percent of the workers unemployed for a year or more (see chart below).

Other key report findings include:

From February 2007 to February 2010, unemployment among African American men more than doubled, climbing from 9.0 percent to19.0 percent.

Among African American women, unemployment increased from 7.1 percent to 13.1 percent during the same time period.

The median duration of unemployment for African American workers also has doubled, increasing from less than three months before the recession began to almost six months in February 2010.

Forty-five percent of unemployed African Americans have been out of work for six months or more.

Younger African American workers have faced particularly high rates of unemployment. In February 2010, more than two out of five African American teenagers were unemployed, compared to an overall teen unemployment rate of slightly over 25 percent.

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