Low Labor Force, High Poverty, and High Inequality: NAACP Statement on September Unemployment Numbers
(Washington, DC) – The NAACP has released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) September employment report which indicates that for the month of September, the national unemployment rate was 5.9. The unemployment rate for Asians was 4.3 percent, for whites 5.1 percent, Latinos 6.9 percent and African Americans 11 percent. The report does not include data for Native Americans.
Wages continue to stagnate according to this jobs report as well, with average hourly earnings at $24.53, a penny less than last month. With minimal improvement in employment levels, American families are counting on wages and hiring to increase at the middle and lower ends of the job market, where African American workers are concentrated. This report includes a 288,000 increase in the number of African Americans employed compared with last month.
Last month, the Census Bureau also released its yearly report on income and poverty. Child poverty rates decreased for the first time since 2000, falling slightly from 21.8% to 19.9%. However, poverty rates for Latino and African American children were significantly higher at 30.4% and 38.3% respectively.
From Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Sr. Director of NAACP Economic Department:
“The unemployment figure of 5.9 percent does not reflect the realities of many African Americans as African American workers continue to be unemployed at over twice the rate of whites. And if we count the workers who are marginally attached to the job market or working part-time for economic reasons, as many as 25% of all African Americans are under-employed. What’s worse: wages in the job sectors where African American workers are concentrated remain far below what anyone would consider a “living wage.” As the NAACP embarks on our Justice Tour over the next month across the country and hears the economic challenges facing our communities, one demand we must rally for are programs that put all Americans back to work, and instituting a wage that lets them live above the poverty line.”
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.