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Black unemployment rises in July as overall unemployment ticks lower

Unemployment Benefits
Posted at 10:33 AM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-06 13:53:31-04

A historically strong job market gained momentum in July as the economy added 528,000 jobs, bringing the U.S. above pre-pandemic levels.

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, as it is tied for its lowest mark since 1969.

But those gains were not spread equally across the economy.

Black unemployment rose slightly in July. It fell for Asian, Latino and white Americans.

Unemployment among Black Americans sits at a seasonally-adjusted 6 percent, significantly higher than the rate for other races.

"We know we need to create strategies that are targeted to communities," said Michelle Wilson, the director of evaluation and learning with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

The nonprofit is among a handful of organizations trying to diversify the U.S. workforce.

"A lot of the work that's being done is on things like occupational segregation," Wilson said, referring to a phenomenon where workers of different races get disproportionately pushed into certain jobs

"Folks are tracked into low paying jobs," Wilson said. "If you take something like child care versus IT, they are very different fields. One comes with job security. The other does not."

Recent data shows less than a quarter of Black workers are in "good jobs," which pay above the median wage and are not prone to outsourcing.

By contrast, 36% of white workers and 42% of Asian workers hold good jobs.

Wilson's team partners with nonprofits at the community level to help provide resources for workers and businesses. They are working with organizations in more than half of the country.

Wilson said the goal is true equity, where every job is a good job.

"We have a lot of folks in the private sector who really want to dig in," Wilson said. "The co-investment strategy, in terms of helping communities build where they are, is a big piece of it. Who knows better about the work and what's happening on the ground than the folks who are living it?"