Black Unemployment Surges But the Racial Gap Shrinks

For the past half-century, the Black unemployment rate has typically been double the rate for non-Hispanic White Americans. For example, in April 2019 when the U.S. economy was booming, the stock market reaching new highs, the unemployment rate of African Americans was 6.6 percent. For non-Hispanic Whites, the unemployment rate was 3.1 percent.

In February of this year, right before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black unemployment rate was 5.8 percent compared to the White rate of 3.1 percent. This was just under the traditional 2-t0-1 Black-to-White ratio.

In April, the unemployment specter hit both Blacks and Whites very hard. Unemployment rates rose to 16.7 percent for Blacks and 14.2 for non-Hispanic Whites. The traditional 2-to-1 unemployment ratio disappeared.

In most past economic downturns, the African American unemployment rate is slower to recover than the rate for Whites. Due to high concentrations of Black workers in service industries most severely impacted by the economic shutdown, it is likely that this time too, economic recovery in the Black community is likely to lag the recovery in White communities.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Alcorn State University Recruited for Federal Student Pathway Program for Careers in Public Service

The Pathway Public Service Program was established in 2019 to develop the next generation of diverse, qualified, and motivated public health servants. Over the past five years, the program has hired over 100 student interns.

Five Black Scholars Selected for New Faculty Positions

The five Black scholars who aer taking on new roles are Khadene Harris at Rice University in Houston, Nakia Melecio at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Bettina Drake at Washington University in St. Louis, Arlette Ngoubene Atioky at Goucher College in Maryland, and Kandi Hill-Clarke at the University of Memphis.

Getty Images to Preserve Digital Photo Archives at Delaware State University

Currently, Delaware State University's photo archives contain thousands of photographs taken over the course of the university's 133 year history. Thanks to a new partnership with Getty Images, those images will be digitized and made available on

Porché Spence Recognized for Outstanding Commitment to Advancing Diversity in Ecology

Dr. Spence currently serves as an assistant professor of environmental studies at North Carolina A&T State University. Throughout her career, she has developed several educational programs geared towards introducing students of color to environmental science fields.

Featured Jobs