A Look at the Racial Gap in Employment by Levels of Educational Attainment

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows data on labor force participation, employment, and unemployment by educational attainment. And the data is broken down by racial and ethnic groups.

In October 2017, 47.1 percent of African Americans who had graduated from high school earlier that year had entered the civilian labor force, compared to nearly 50.3 percent of Whites who had graduated from high school in 2017. But 16.6 percent of recent Black high school graduates were unemployed compared to 12.9 percent of Whites who had recently graduated from high schools. The Labor Department defines unemployed people as actively seeking work but unable to find it.

For African Americans 16 to 24 years of age who were enrolled in college in October 2017, 41.7 percent also were employed. For Whites in this age group who were enrolled in college, 49.7 percent also held jobs. For Blacks ages 16 to 24 who were enrolled in college, the unemployment rate was 11.2 percent compared to 5.1 percent for similarly aged Whites who were enrolled in college.

For African Americans aged 20 to 29 who were college graduates in October 2017, 65.2 percent were employed. For White college graduates ages 20 to 29, 80.6 percent were employed. The unemployment rate for African American college graduates in this age group was 21.6 percent, compared to only 8.8 percent for White college graduates of similar age.

Thus, young African American college graduates were nearly 2.5 times as likely to be unemployed than their White peers.

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