Press Release

Job Recovery Leaves Significant Percentage of Black Workers Underemployed

September 6, 2014

NAACP Statement on August Unemployment Numbers

(Washington, DC) – The NAACP has released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) August employment report which indicates that for the month of August, the national unemployment rate had a slight drop to 6.1 percent.  The unemployment rate for Asians was 4.5 percent, for whites 5.3 percent, Latinos 7.5 percent and African Americans 11.4 percent. The report does not include Native Americans.

In addition to the overall African American unemployment remaining high at 11.4 percent, more than double that of white unemployment, an even higher percentage of African Americans are underemployed and/or part time workers.  This August BLS report states that the underemployment rate (the U6 rate) is 12% for the nation as a whole, which by our estimation signifies an underemployment rate for the African American community at almost 25%.

From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO:

“The trend of a national decrease in unemployment is encouraging; but we cannot lose sight of the persistently high levels of black unemployment and underemployment. With African American workers being disproportionately concentrated in occupations that hire part-time workers while also paying low wages, we are trapping them along with other vulnerable economic populations in perpetual financial distress and preventing them from moving into the middle class. Stronger and better quality job creation, particularly in these communities, is essential before our country can be on a sustainable path to economic recovery.”

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

“All across the country, we are seeing lower wage workers protest their low pay and their challenge to find full time work. The decline in the unemployment rate is a positive step in the right direction, but it is imperative that we make part of the economic recovery full time work with living wages for all of those that seek to be in the workforce.”


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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