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The Black unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in May, falling from April

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May 2018 jobless chart

 Black men’s jobless rate remains high as more look for work

 Wage growth is low

By Frederick H. Lowe

The nation’s black unemployment rate in May was 5.9 percent, down from 6.6 percent in April as the country’s overall jobless rate dropped to an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Even in a strong job market, however, black men 20 years old and older are still having a hard time finding work. The unemployment rate for them was 6.3 percent in May, compared to 3.2 percent for white men in the same age group and 3.9 percent for Hispanic men. There isn’t any job category for Asian males 20 and over. The jobless rate for Asian men and women was 2.1 percent in May.

 The labor participation rate for black men in May was 68.5 percent compared to 67.7 percent in April. The labor participation rate includes people who are employed in addition to the unemployed who are looking for work.

Marc Morial

As always, the jobless rate for black women fared better than that of black men.

The unemployment rate for black women aged 20 and older in May was 4.7 percent, down from 5.1 percent in April.

But it was higher compared to white women and lower than Hispanic women in the same age group. The jobless rate for white women was 3.2 percent and 5.1 percent for Hispanic women.

The overall jobless rate for whites was 3.5%.

Sara Eisen, a news anchor at CNBC, tweeted, the black unemployment rate hit a record low and gap between black and white joblessness is the narrowest ever.

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said on CNBC, that he was not completely happy with the economy. The last time the jobless rate was this low the minimum wage was higher and the rents were lower, Morial explained.

Elise Gould, senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said wages grew 2.7 percent over the past year.

“While economists and commentators have myriad explanations for why wage growth is so sluggish, it seems obvious that, with many workers still unemployed or sitting on the sidelines, employers just don’t have any incentive to raise wages,”  Gould wrote.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm employment increased by 223,000 jobs in May. Employment continued to grow in retail, health care and construction.

 

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