NAACP Statement on July Unemployment Numbers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly report on the overall employment situation.  This regular report is a product of two surveys, the Establishment and Household surveys gather information on unemployment levels and job creation across a variety of occupational sectors and demographic classifications.

From Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Sr. Director of NAACP Economic Department:

“For the first time since 1997, the economy has added 200,000 or more jobs for six straight months. The labor market is slowly recovering from the depths of the "Great Recession." The unemployment rate within the African American community is 11.4 percent, down from the 13.5 percent in June of 2013. The 2 to 1 employment disparity between African Americans and whites is not closing and appears to be a permanent part of the economy. This disparity, as well as the disparity found in Latino unemployment, must be addressed. Stronger and better quality job creation, particularly in communities that are suffering persistently high unemployment levels, is essential before we can be on a sustainable path to economic recovery.”

Highlights:

  • Overall, black unemployment was up again this month to 11.4% after a sharp drop in last month’s report, however it is still far lower than the 13.5% of June of last year.
  • Black adult unemployment remains more than double white unemployment (5.3%).
  • Black teen unemployment rose to 33.9%, this is less than twice as high as white teen unemployment at 18.3. White teens are far more likely to be working or looking for work, with an employment to population ratio of 29.9%.  On the other hand, black teen employment to population ratio continues to decline.  This month just 16.5% of black teens were working or looking for work.  New data has cast doubt on the assertion that these teens are seeking refuge in school, with both the Wall Street Journal and the Economic Policy Institute noting that many black youths are neither in the workforce nor in school.
  • With 209,000 jobs added this month the gains were in line with average over the past year.  However, revisions to the already good numbers for last month added about 15,000 more jobs to that report.
  • The biggest gainers were again the highly diverse professional and business services sector (47.000), manufacturing (28,000), retail (27,000), and construction (22,000) sectors.  The black workers in these sectors are typically concentrated in non-union, low paying positions.  Despite the name, the Professional and Business Services sector is comprised largely of low wage positions.  These include waste removal, security, and office support.
  • Health care, another highly diverse sector which often pays minority workers much more than others, added just 8,000 net jobs.  This continues a trend of a slowdown in the rapid expansion of the health care sector over the last two years.
  • The gains in employment are uneven across educational achievement groups, with college graduates approaching the unemployment levels they experienced pre-2008, while those with a high school diploma or less have far higher unemployment than they did pre-recession.
  • Wages have not increased noticeably this month, adding just a penny to reach $24.45.  We can expect wages to continue to remain stagnant as long as high unemployment remains among workers with lower levels of education. Job gains in unskilled and semi-skilled work such as retail and professional and business services will be offset by the large number of job seekers, keeping wages in check

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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